Christmas advert tracker: Who is top of the tree?

“It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid…”

Well, afraid might be a bit extreme, but there are quite a few marketing directors who are nervously awaiting to see how their Christmas campaigns perform.

To prevent too many sleepless nights, the Opinium brand and communications team have been rigorously reviewing all the Christmas advert action and updating our league table to find out who is top of the tree and who is this year’s Christmas turkey.

Just like our counterparts in Adland we’ve been busy and have spoken to 9,000 consumers to gather their thoughts on 36 leading Christmas executions.

 

The results are fascinating, with Iceland’s banned ‘Rantang’ claiming the top spot as the strongest all-round performer.

As expected, consumers see the execution as different to other Christmas ads and crucially for Iceland it is motivating, something many Christmas ads struggle to do.

The evergreen “holidays are coming” Coca Cola ad continues to entertain UK audiences, achieving the highest cut-through of all the tested ads and claiming the second place overall.

Another returning favourite is Amazon’s singing logoed boxes this year with “can you feel it” as the music accompaniment, which has dovetailed nicely into their black Friday activity to clinch third.

However, both executions have been beaten to top spot in terms of outright enjoyment by Heathrow’s teddy bears who literally return to both the country and our screens for another year.

The return of the beloved bears backed up by Paul Young’s husky tones have pipped John Lewis and Partners to be crowned the most enjoyable ad to watch this Christmas.

Despite deploying one the most famous musician’s on the planet, signing one of the most iconic songs ever written, John Lewis and Partners’ ad fails to resonate with consumers – yes it is very different to other Christmas ads, but has little to do with the retailer’s offer and fails to make our overall top ten.

Bucking the trend

Deciding to buck trend of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, Cadbury decided not to bring back their highly successful advent calendar creative, opting instead for a ‘Secret Santa’ narrative whose clear product integration and a heart-warming message places it second only to Iceland in its ability to motivate consumers.

While many retailers have tended to play it safer this year with a return to product-focused campaigns, Sainsbury’s stood out as a notable exception.

Its ‘big night’ school production was widely enjoyed, but struggled to motivate consumers who were hesitant about the creative’s link to the supermarket.

But where Sainsbury’s messaging wobbled, Tesco triumphed.

Its humorous, down-to-earth and accessible campaign based on the idea that we all do Christmas differently, equalled Sainsbury’s in terms of enjoyment, but delivered much more strongly in terms of emotional connection to the brand and motivation to purchase enabling it to secure the fifth spot overall – twenty-five places above its rival.

Top of the high street is Boots, with a simple story of the everyday battles that Mums face with their teenage daughters.

The clear brand integration and music from an adapted version of Robbie Williams ‘she’s the one’ creates a heady cocktail of strong cut through and emotional appeal that consumers find hard to resist.

So how have the class of 2018 performed?

While some commentators have suggested that this year has signalled the death of the ‘big’ Christmas ads which have dominated the festive period in recent weeks, our data suggests that these campaigns instead represents a re-focusing of brands. The benefit of recycling campaigns at a time of year when consumers are traditionally nostalgic means that brand owners can capitalise on existing emotional ties with the right execution. Certainly, our consumer data from past four years shows that actually at such a busy advertising period, it pays to play to your brand’s core strengths and deliver your campaign in an easily understood, entertaining way – after all Christmas is about giving, sharing and having some fun.

Happy Christmas!