Decision Marketing‘s resident Christmas TV ad critic Jonathan Spooner might beg to differ but a new study insists that Aldi, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s festive activity exhibits the highest levels of emotional intelligence.
Using facial expression software from MSQ’s full-service digital agency Twentysix, combined with insight and analysis and data science from sister agencies Freemavens and Stack, the research detailed how each of the major supermarket’s ads resonated emotionally with viewers, drawing parallels with sentiment shared online.
Aldi, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s eclipsed all competitors in the social tracking study, both in terms of social mentions and keyword search. The brands also generated a large amount of positive sentiment and, while Sainsbury’s received the highest number of negative social posts, those were significantly overwhelmed by levels of positive sentiment directed towards the brand too.
To measure a viewer’s emotional response to each film, Twentysix used facial recognition software to map reactions against key characteristics, such as joy, anger and fear. It was found that the ads that performed best in search and social were the ones that elicited the broadest mix of emotions.
Whereas some supermarkets either over-indexed on one emotion (joy), or elicited too much negative emotion overall, Aldi, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s got the balance just right – with joy accounting for approximately 40% of the emotional share, and a healthy balance of other emotions punctuated throughout.
Twentysix also found that the ads generating the best response were those that focused on punctuated peaks of emotion in their film, rather than building up to a single pay off or aiming for steady levels of an emotion such as joy or sadness.
And while many of the ads built their narrative around a Christmas meal, this set-piece continually fell flat with viewers, eliciting either zero emotion or even levels of contempt and disgust.
Twentysix head of experience design Christine Osborne said: “With people preparing for a Christmas day that’s all a bit different to normal, perhaps the idea of the big, traditional Christmas meal was too much for some to stomach. And whilst joy is without doubt the most welcome emotion to elicit in a Christmas ad, we found that it was those who could balance it with other emotions and tell a rollercoaster of a story that really resonated with our viewers.”
MSQ chief data officer Rob Goodwin added: “Just getting work out the door has been an incredible feat this year, but we thought it would be interesting to see how each ad stacked up when it came to truly engaging with an audience. Our tools show that it’s those supermarkets that exhibit High EQ that are also producing the most memorable and shareable work.”
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