There may still be more than 230 sleeps until Christmas but brands planning for their festive ads might like to know that Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot has outperformed all-comers, according to a new analysis covering the past three years.
The “12 Rules of Christmas” report by advertising effectiveness firm System1 – and the ensuing “Gift of Great Christmas Creative” webinar hosted in partnership with ITV – claims to give marketers the inside track on how to improve the commercial impact of festive ads.
Not that everyone is convinced; in his 2022 Christmas review, Decision Marketing columnist Jonathan Spooner branded the ad “an atrocity”.
Even so, the study identified the top 35 ads of the last three Christmas seasons, based on 15,750 consumer surveys completed with System1’s Test Your Ad platform. The ad testing database measures viewers’ emotional responses to creative and provides an IPA-validated Star Rating from 1 to 5.9, based on an ad’s ability to drive long-term growth.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, November and December see a large spike in new ads, and, while more 5-Star brand-building ads are introduced in the UK in November than any other month, they have a much shorter shelf life due to their focus on the festive period.
System1 chief customer officer Jon Evans said: “Christmas is the annual event for UK advertisers and many are already in the midst of planning their 2023 campaigns. The data and tips we’ve compiled will help brands and agencies alike as they work to develop creative that will increase profits and market share growth.”
2022 saw the greatest spread of effectiveness scores, but also the greatest proportion of 5-Star ads to date, with half of the top 35 ads securing highly. Asda, Amazon and Aldi’s 2022 commercials were also the top three ads of the past three years, all scoring the maximum 5.9-Star rating.
But because consistency is key, System1’s analysis also looked at which brands landed in the top 35 in 2020, 2021 and 2022. The most consistent brands and their Christmas ads’ average star rating are: Aldi (5.7-Stars); Coca-Cola (5.6); Sky (4.9); Lego (4.8); Lidl (4.7); M&S (4.7); Disney (4.6); Morrisons (4.6); Argos (4.4); Tesco (4.4); Barbour (4.4); and Boots (3.2).
Asda senior director of brand communications Stephi Brett-Lee said: “Christmas matters so much to the fabric of the nation. Borrowing a recognisable and beloved character – Buddy the Elf – to put at the centre of our 2022 Christmas campaign and in-store activations helped us capture the hearts of audiences and drive sales during the biggest trading period of the year. To have the ad hit the highest brand-building metric on System1’s rating scale was the icing on the cake.”
The “12 Rules of Christmas” report outlines elements for a successful Christmas ad, including:
– Build a story that takes viewers on an emotional journey and be sure to end with happiness at a high, like Heathrow’s ad about a mum being surprised by her children at the airport.
– Advertising that incorporates cultural references can effectively entertain for commercial gain, like the Aldi teaser’s nod to the World Cup and Tesco’s references to the state of politics.
– Leverage existing IP that triggers a positive emotional response – like Asda did with Elf and Barbour has done on multiple occasions with Paddington Bear.
– Purpose can be an effective tool when brands choose the right cause or partner and seamlessly weave it into a storyline. Christmas 2022 saw many successful adverts with purpose at their core, like M&S promoting its support of the Neighbourly Foundation.
– Recurring brand characters and scenarios, like Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot, help to quickly drive brand recognition and elicit a stronger emotional response, thereby supporting long-term business effects.
– Music speaks to our hearts and melodic music is an especially effective right-brain feature in ads. Take inspiration from Coca-Cola’s “Wonderful Dream (Holidays Are Coming)” tune that is a staple of its classic, recurring Christmas spot.
To view the webinar recording and download the complete “12 Rules of Christmas” report, visit the System1 website>
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