As John Lewis unveils its teaser for tomorrow’s release of this year’s Christmas ad, it seems it is already facing stiff competition from rivals, with festive spots from Aldi to Marks & Spencer getting a big thumbs-up from UK consumers.
With prices rising, bills mounting, and consumers inevitably tightening their belts, this year was always going to be a tricky one to get the cash-strapped public to react kindly to seasonal offerings.
However, according to System1’s Test Your Ad platform – which has been rating every new Christmas ad using the emotional response of real viewers to predict each ad’s long- and short-term effectiveness – consumers are lapping up this year’s crop.
The company, which holds a database of over 100,000 TV ads, maintains that on its 1 to 5-Star scale, only 1% of ads normally get the top 5-Star score.
But the 2022 Christmas ad season is barely a week old, and it has already seen seven 5-Star ads. Aldi, Asda, Boots, Disney, Lego, Lidl, and M&S have all made ads that have earned the top score. By comparison, in 2021 only two ads – Aldi and Coca-Cola – scored 5-Stars with viewers.
Asda’s Have your Elf a Merry Christmas, devised by Havas London and starring Will Ferrell as Buddy The Elf, has emerged as a strong early contender with a hugely positive audience response.
The highest 5-Star score puts the ad in line with two of the biggest scoring ads on the database – John Lewis’ “Excitable Edgar” in 2019 and Coke’s “Holidays are coming”.
It seems the ad, which splices footage from Elf into Asda stores, hits the millennial nostalgia sweet spot and is a sign that this year’s competition for the top spot will be fierce.
In fact, System1 reckons the enjoyment around Christmas ads is so high that Aldi has become the first ever brand to get a 5-Star score with just a trailer (for its annual Kevin the Carrot ad), meaning Aldi is now the first brand ever to get 5-Star scores four years in a row.
Advertisers are playing it safe so far and mostly avoiding the cost-of-living crisis and the Winter World Cup – although the Aldi and Tesco ads touched on these themes both scored highly by taking a humorous approach.
System1 chief customer officer Jon Evans said: “The bleak economic forecast hasn’t stopped Christmas advertisers – and now we can see it hasn’t stopped the British public from loving Christmas ads.
“The creatives have got it right and this could end up being the best year ever for Christmas ads in terms of emotional effectiveness. Right now the likes of Kevin the Carrot, Farmer Christmas, and Buddy the Elf are bringing a spot of much-needed cheer, but, in the long-term, strong performances now will be good for brands and businesses when the economic gloom lifts.
“There’s been an emphasis on family, nostalgia and special moments which gets the mood just right – even if it’s just for one day, at Christmas people want to feel a bit of joy.”
System1 has worked with several advertisers to test and develop Christmas ads, including Boots’ 5-Star “Joy For All” ad. Boots chief marketing officer Peter Markey said: “As opposed to asking if someone likes it, I can show you how people think and feel watching it. It has made it a richer conversation to bring more science and data about the creative.”
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