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Nicholas the Sweep: the real story behind this year’s Sainsbury’s Christmas advert

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Hollie Richardson
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Nicholas the sweep Sainsbury's advert

The festive season has officially started, thanks to the first round of Christmas adverts from Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Asda and TK Maxx. Find out the real stories behind them all here.

The first Christmas adverts of the year are finally here, which means we can officially start the festive celebrations. After all, we know that Christmas adverts are the true markers of starting the festive season – right?

Last year, our favourites included the Sainsbury’s nativity play, with a star appearance by the boy dressed as a plug. We also became very emotional over that budget ad that went viral. And, obviously, the John Lewis advert divided the internet once again with its Elton John storyline.

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Christmas adverts 2019

Sainsbury’s has now released it’s advert for 2019 and, although it takes a completely different direction to last year’s offering, it’s just as brilliant. Let’s take a look at the heart-warming story behind it, along with other adverts from Aldi, TK Maxx and Asda.

Sainsbury’s

The British supermarket chain takes us back to a snowy Dickensian Christmas. This is to celebrate 150 of Sainsbury’s.

Watch the Sainsbury’s Nicholas the Sweep Christmas advert 

It tells the story of a young chimney sweep called Nicholas. He is wrongly accused of stealing a clementine from the first Sainsbury’s stall on Christmas Eve in 1869. Nicholas is then taken away in a cage and banished for the crime that he did not commit. But Mary Ann Sainsbury, the real life wife of Sainsbury’s founder John James Sainsbury, finds Nicholas in a blizzard to tell him that she knows he is innocent. Taking him home in a carriage, she hands him a bag of clementines. This act of kindness prompts Nicholas to tell her: “There’s something I need to do.” We then see him delivering clementines to his chimney sweeping friends while they are sleeping. After his work is done, Nicholas then puts on a red hat to match his red jacket – suggesting that he is in fact St Nicholas. The narrator then tells us: “And that is a totally true story. Merry Christmas.”

Although it’s highly unlikely that this really happened, there is some truth to the story. “Some of it’s based on true events; there was a shop in 1869 that was open for Christmas,” said Laura Boothby, the supermarket’s head of broadcast marketing.

This might be our favourite one yet, but we’re still waiting to see the John Lewis Christmas advert 2019.

Aldi

Kevin the carrot is back (hurrah!), but this time he has some green “Leafy Blinders” enemies.

Watch the Aldi Christmas 2019 advert

Inspired by hit BBC show Peaky Blinders, the advert opens with Kevin being held hostage by Russell Sprout and his mob of angry “Leafy Blinders” (a crime against anyone who loves the balls of green goodness on their Christmas dinner plate). Luckily, Tommy the tomato sets Kevin free, so that he can go and put on a dazzling festive performance with his veggie family and friends. Set to sound of a revamped version of Robbie Williams’ Let Me Entertain You, it ends with a Brussels sprout being blasted out of a cannon.

This is Christmas at its finest, people!

TK Maxx

TK Maxx has launched it’s Gift Different advert, calling for customers to put more thought into “adventurous” gifts in order to avoid the “same old, same old”.

Watch TK Maxx’s Christmas 2019 advert

The retro ad looks like a short Wes Anderson film, fronted by a retro daredevil gifter affectionately known as TK. He is on a mission to switch off his auto-pilot shopping habits and go on an unconventional adventure to “gift different” this year. TK is determined to find gifts to make friends and family go “Oooooah” and “Ahhhh”, leaving them with grins so big they hurt. And isn’t that what we all want to do? It’s a gentle reminder to be more conscious about what to give people so that it’s not thrown away by the time next Christmas comes. 

Asda

Asda’s Let’s make Christmas Extra Special advert kicked things off when it debuted on Saturday night (2 November). The two-minute ad is centred on the people who go the extra mile to spread joy throughout the festive season and make it a special time for all.

Watch Asda’s Christmas 2019 advert

Inspired by her late grandad, an adventurous girl takes his old walking stick and tools to make a rod. She hooks a bell jar onto the rod before launching it into the Northern Lights sky. “Grandad said that this is Santa’s left over magic from when he pops to the shops,” she tells her brother. 

Armed with a jar full of Northern Lights magic, the siblings then wander around their town, spreading the sparkle. They make toys come to life, they turn a drunken dancing uncle into a snowman and they give a cat a sleigh to fly in. They even create a giant bauble that rolls down the street, which we’re actually a bit concerned about in terms of health and safety.

The town is basically transformed into a winter wonderland, thanks to these two kids.

ASDA Christmas ad
Asda's Christmas advert is about two siblings who just want to spread some festive sparkle.

And then, after running out of sparkle, they return home, sad that it’s all over.

But the real tear-jerker moment comes when the brother takes the very last drop of magic and uses it to create falling snowflakes in his sister’s room for her to wake up to. “Merry Christmas, spud,” he whispers. 

Anyone who knows first-hand how Christmas has a magical ability to bring siblings together is no-doubt in tears at this point (or is it just me?). 

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The real story behind ASDA’s Christmas advert

What makes the advert extra-special is the real story behind it. The ad was filmed in Tyldesley, Wigan – a town that many people can recognise as somewhere they grew up in, with a real sense of community spirit. Last year, Tyldesley residents were unhappy with how their town Christmas tree looked, with people claiming it was the worst in the country.

The town was once known for having fantastic lights and a tree, so Asda is on a mission to bring the magic back this Christmas. As a thank you to the town, on the 30 November, Asda will head back to Tyldesley and dish out mince pies and hot chocolate to all. As a finishing touch, Asda will provide giant Christmas decorations for the much talked about Tyldesley town Christmas tree.

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These ads have already well and truly got us in the mood for Christmas, so we can’t wait to see ones come next. 

Images: Asda

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…