Sainsbury's vs John Lewis: Which is the Best Christmas Advert 2014?
The battle lines have been drawn by Sainsbury’s and John Lewis in the fight to be crowned best Christmas Advert 2014.
It is the first time in several years that John Lewis has been challenged to capturing the festive sentiment of the UK, after successive triumphs with ‘The Long Wait’, ‘The Journey’ and the magnificent ‘The Bear and the Hare’ of last year. This year its hopes are pinned on Monty the Penguin.
Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s looks like giving the department store a run for its money, though has divided opinion over its Christmas advert based on the 1914 truce in no man’s land between British and German soldiers.
The World War One imagery, ending with the message ‘Christmas is a time for sharing’, has been praised by some as genius and slated by others as exploitative of the sentiment felt by many during the centenary year.
It couldn’t be further from the fluffy story of Monty and Sam, a boy who believes he knows exactly what his best friend wants for Christmas – a female penguin to love and cherish.
Early YouTube indications show that John Lewis has the edge, with around 16.35 million views on its official channel compared to 10.46 million for Sainsbury’s.
In addition to the main advert, Sainsbury's also has “making of” and “story behind the ad" videos, gaining respective views of 90,000 and 163,500 just over 24 hours after launch.
The supermarket made its advert in partnership with the Royal British Legion, for which profits of its special edition chocolate, given to a German soldier in the advert, will go to directly (50p per bar) and support armed forces and their families.
Which advert will come out on top? Will John Lewis’s ‘Give someone a Christmas they’ve been dreaming of’ be toppled by the sentiment delivered in Sainsbury’s ‘Christmas is a time for Sharing’? Watch both adverts below and see what you think.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”