Game for a laugh? Brits want ‘feelgood’ Xmas TV ads

Kevin 2Brand owners and their agencies who are still putting the finishing touches to their Christmas ads are being urged to make them “rib ticklers”, with a new analysis showing that Brits have had enough misery for one year and want entertaining ads that make them feel good.

While that advice might come a little too late for many, according to a Kantar study, sadder storylines can be effective but when times are tough, like they are now for many people going through the cost of living crisis, all consumers really want for Christmas is something uplifting.

This might explain why Asda’s Kevin the Carrot ads are so popular with consumers, regularly topping the polls of the most effective festive ads, despite being pilloried by many creative directors.

In fact, the ad outperformed all-comers, according to an analysis covering the past three years by advertising effectiveness firm System1.

The Kantar study, meanwhile, reveals that one in four of us has laughed out loud at a Christmas TV ad as the research shows UK TV ads more generally are getting better at giving us a lift.

Kantar found that around three-fifths (56%) of TV ads used humour in 2023, recovering from a low of around 43% in the wake of the Covid pandemic. This compares with highs of around 66% in the early 2000s. Kantar’s data shows that ads which make us smile or laugh make more of an impact with consumers and are more effective commercially.

The company’s head of creative excellence, Lynne Deason, explained that getting an emotional reaction from people is the holy grail for advertisers. Humour in particular not only helps ads stand out more, it also sparks conversations and makes them more memorable.

She added: “Christmas ads are especially good at triggering an emotional response from us, but in recent years we’ve had a bit of a dip in laughter with many brands choosing to go down a sadder, more sentimental, and heartfelt route. In fact, one in ten British consumers say they have shed a tear after watching a festive campaign.”

Kantar’s findings also show the power of Christmas ads for bringing people together and starting a conversation – often cutting across generational divides.

Just over a quarter (26%) of people talk about Christmas ads with friends and family, while seasonal content seems to generate watercooler moments at work, with just over 20% of 16 to 44 year olds discussing campaigns with colleagues.

Deason reckons Christmas ads’ place in the festive cultural calendar really has been cemented since John Lewis & Partners launched ‘the Long Wait’ back in 2011. They are part of Christmas and have huge cultural sway – one in ten of us will watch more TV in the hope of catching them, while 15% of 16 to 34 year olds say they get together with others to view ads.

She added: “Of course, there’s a lot riding on these campaigns commercially for the brands that invest in them, and advertisers will be hoping their ads can help them cut through and win the battle for the Christmas pound. The competition is likely to be particularly fierce this year with a whopping 81% of people saying they will shop around for the best offers.

“Our data suggests that consumers are feeling more optimistic in comparison with 2022, but there is still significant financial pressure on many household budgets. Brands will need to walk this tightrope carefully, bringing the joy that people truly love about Christmas ads while making sure their content isn’t out of kilter with the economic realities that some consumers are facing.”

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