Need to know

  • Christmas ads are only partly about building short-term sales – they are also a huge brand-building opportunity
  • Kantar Millward Brown analysed consumer reactions to 22 of the most high-profile UK TV Christmas ad campaigns. Audiences were asked to review and score each ad on 12 key dimensions that relate to effectiveness
  • Adverts analysed include Iceland, Amazon, John Lewis, Aldi, Boots and M&S
  • 2018’s Christmas ads over-indexed on showing a successful or perfect ‘family’ Christmas, and much less on the pure fun of the season, and on the act of giving
  • In 2018, it was the smaller-scale, more traditional and relatable stories that produced the strongest consumer responses – but only if the story was authentic for the brand
  • Ads with simpler ideas and ‘real’, accessible scenarios, were rated higher on measures that relate to motivation to buy and brand-building than the more epic blockbuster ads which presented a ‘fantasy’ version of Christmas
  • Brands that resist the urge to solely push product in favour of storytelling create the most powerful ads – not just for Christmas, but all year round
  • The most effective ads were also those with a narrative that felt authentic for the brand
  • Being both engaging and persuasive is a winning combination for a Christmas ad
  • While Christmas is an opportune time for brands to align with important social causes it is also worth remembering that to many consumers Christmas is about simple pleasures and a break from their more serious concerns – so emphasising these ideas may resonate well
  • A strong campaign can make brands more salient at key decision moments, and positively frame brand experiences to build stronger business results – not only during the critical Christmas months, but all year round
  • The author offers advice on some key questions to ask when running a Christmas campaign