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ALDI whips up a sandstorm for Christmas

November 2021

This is a self-funded case study using our Ad Testing solution.

ALDI Australia (not to be confused with ALDI UK and ‘Kevin the Carrot’) has championed being ‘Good Different’ since 2017, establishing a brand positioning to match the business's “philosophy and approach” to all aspects of its operations. However, the last 5 years testing ALDI’s hero Christmas campaigns (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020) has revealed that while mainstream grocery shoppers very much perceive its creative style to be ‘different’, much of this isn’t in a ‘good’ way. 

At the same time, ALDI has repeatedly proven that its year-round, retail-focused communications deliver for the brand in spades. The recent ‘Escape the Collectibles’ campaign highlighted the power of the brand’s strategy when delivered in a contextually-relevant way. In other words, tempering the weird, quirky, and irreverent positioning the brand seeks to occupy, with category-relevant cues and insights. And, just as importantly, more closely aligning with shoppers’ actual experience with ALDI supermarkets. Its hero Christmas communications have continually got that balance wrong, hindering effectiveness.

But then, in 2021, came along none other than Darude’s ‘Sandstorm’, and turned everything upside down. The cult classic is used to great effect to add humor and excitement to ALDI’s 2021 Christmas message — encouraging Australians to let their hair down and go all-out in 2021, following a tumultuous few years.

‘You Can’t Overcook Christmas’ is — by far — the hardest-working Christmas campaign we’ve tested for ALDI Australia over the last 6 years. What makes it so effective? We’ll deep-dive into its performance by looking at the 3 C’s underpinning marketing success:

  • Captivate: Does it stand out and grab attention?
  • Connect: Does it instantly recall the brand?
  • Compel: Does it motivate behavioral change?


The ad builds suspense by depicting the tedious, monotonous Christmas preparations we’re all accustomed to, backed by a slow, melodic rendition of ‘O Christmas Tree’. This dramatically makes way for Darude’s iconic ‘Sandstorm’, which sees the shackles released and Christmas planning tossed aside as the characters “get their Christmas on”. This was met with much amusement and happiness, helping make it the most attention-grabbing Christmas ad of 2021.

While some were put-off by the inane events which transpired (similarly to years gone by), by tapping into the fun and relatability of “cooking Christmas a little crazy”, the majority were left with a smile on their faces.

ALDI Australia Christmas Ad Testing - Captivate



While previous Christmas campaigns, including last year’s ‘Synchronized Santas', achieved a similar level of distinctiveness to 2021, their lack of contextual framing meant little uniquely linked the memories created back to ALDI. Like we touched on earlier, this has been the biggest issue facing the brand’s Christmas communications in all our years testing them.

In comparison, the 2021 campaign had much greater synergy with how the general population think and feel about ALDI. By structuring the narrative around food preparation (including the recurring appearance of ham and seafood in all the brand’s Christmas communications), it helped contextualize the events transpiring. This resulted in a good level of fit with how shoppers perceive ALDI.

ALDI Australia 'Good Different' Christmas Ad Testing - Connect



Given the safer and more conservative approach taken by many other retailers this Christmas, ALDI’s spot did a much better job of carving out a unique position for the brand. Importantly, it created ‘Meaningful Difference’ — with the ad positioning ALDI as unlike the other supermarkets in a way that was much more believable and relevant than previous years’ efforts. 

Combined with an empowering and uplifting storyline, the ad successfully predisposed shoppers toward spending their festive dollars at ALDI. This was a function of both reminding people about the delicious, high-quality food products available, along with the suggestion that ALDI makes the mundane livelier.

ALDI AU 'You can't overcook Christmas' Ad Testing - Compel


What’s the learning for marketers?

ALDI’s crusade toward overturning category conventions and championing the role of creativity to drive business effects, has risen the bar for the entire advertising industry in Australia. And for that, we should all be thankful.

But what these broader learnings reinforce is that standing out and doing something out of the ordinary isn’t enough on its own to drive marketing success. It isn’t even enough to create meaningful engagement.

Looking at the success of both 2021’s ‘You Can’t Overcook Christmas’ and ALDI UK’s ‘Kevin the Carrot’, a clear pattern emerges. Namely that distinctiveness must be coupled with a positive resolve in order for its full effects to be realized.

Warmth, excitement, inspiration, and amusement all featured in ALDI UK’s ‘Kevin the Carrot’ — the most effective Christmas ad of 2021. But importantly, the ongoing story, theme, and of course characters helped to not only separate the grocer from the sea of retailer ‘sameness’, but also create instant recognizability. That’s the type of ‘Good Different’ all advertisers should be continually striving for.

ALDI Australia Christmas Ad Testing - Cubery Rating

Check out our full Christmas Ad Testing leaderboard.

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