Adnams Christmas

Strategy and scale for a local brewery fighting global giants, and a cost-of-living busting Christmas campaign


Art direction
Brand strategy
Campaign creative
Campaign strategy
Visual identity


Increase in consideration


Increase in claimed consumption

The Brief

Adnams is a brewer, distiller and wine-merchant from Southwold on the Suffolk coast – an institution across East Anglia, present at the punctuation marks of local lives since 1872. They are well known and highly respected. 

Over the past two years as Adnams’ creative agency, we’ve focussed on enhancing the brand’s emotional resonance and relevance, both regionally and further afield: this started with brand work, followed initially with the Adnams Christmas campaign.

Part of the challenge of being a ubiquitous regional brand is the risk of becoming ‘the mountain next door’ – everybody knows you, but doesn’t think about you enough, in enough buying situations. It was losing its emotional engagement with its local audience.

Brand Strategy

The first half of 2022, we consulted across the organisation to rearticulate its brand positioning and purpose – to ‘Elevating the Moments that Matter’ – and worked with the team to develop a refreshed brand world that, rather than having a connection with simply ‘coast’, celebrated its Suffolk home and its defining qualities.

At its heart, this was about broadening the emotional lens of what the Adnams brand represented, identifying and tapping into the richness of Southwold. Partly to own something unique within the category, and partly to tap into powerful post-pandemic consumer drivers: these days, we’re all searching for a little piece of Southwold.

Southwold creates a sense of comfort that comes with history, community, long beaches, whispering reeds, shaded cottages. It represents escapism to a bygone era  – an antidote to the pains of today’s hyper-connected world. It embodies a benchmark for the quality and accessible premium Adnams is known for. It gives us time well spent, memories, nostalgia. And it gives us a sense of humour: nobody in Suffolk takes themselves too seriously.

By the end of the summer of 2022 brand tracking had been established, core brand image attributes defined, and a creative platform that unashamedly placed its key distinctive brand asset (the Adnams logo) front and centre – at the heart of the ‘moments that matter’ – was ready to go.

Christmas Campaign

The following Christmas campaign further brought the brand to life. It was plainly going to be a tough time for most of East of England’s consumers, as the cost-of-living crisis began to bite. And even though Adnams consumers are typically better-heeled, the crisis was demonstrably impacting purchase decisions. 

Every indicator suggested that whilst our audience still intended to spend money at Christmas, the glitz and ostentation of holidays past would be replaced with a more modest focus on quality, local provenance, and ethicality. This felt like a natural space for Adnams, but there were no guarantees. Success in this space would mean resonating emotionally with our regional audience, presenting a version of Christmas that toed the line between aspiration and reality, and that placed Adnams at the heart of the season.

Our insight was about the simple magic that people make for themselves, whatever the circumstances: it’s not about buying new matching pyjamas, or the latest tech gifts. It’s the rituals, the people, the hilarity of things that went awry.

Creatively we set out to celebrate the charm and joy of those imperfect, human moments. We reminded audiences that if they’re looking for simple and local quality to grace those moments, to look no further than Adnams. This was captured in the consistent language of the campaign – ‘Whatever you bring to the table this Christmas, bring Adnams’ – and gave Adnams a point of view amongst seasonal communication. But it also targeted a core brand image statement – ‘Makes moments feel more special’ – that we knew through prior research not only supported perceptions of premium (‘Worth paying more for’) but impacted consideration and claimed consumption.

The bulk of impact was delivered via OOH (in proximity to stores and in high-impact locations across East Anglia), where we captured perfectly imperfect festive moments and included subtle coastal cues to build on existing brand recognition. We worked with photographer David Boni, shooting real community members in real locations around Southwold, elevating those moments to feel premium, aspirational but utterly honest. 

The campaign also ran across targeted regional radio, and integrated through the line across owned media and retail environments, CRM, organic social and a targeted digital plan.

The Results

Our emotionally resonant approach cut through, with a 110% increase in consideration and a 159% increase in claimed consumption, as well as leaps across our key brand image statements, including ‘Worth Paying More For’.