Coca-Cola has been named as this year’s best Christmas advertiser in the UK after its two festive campaigns saw off strong competition with a winning formula of nostalgia and escapism.

According to research firm Kantar, Coca-Cola’s iconic Holidays are Coming truck ad, which has been running in one form or another since 1995, took the top spot as the “most powerful, most enjoyable, generating the most love, and with the strongest branding”.

Its second seasonal ad, entitled The Letter and featuring a father trying to deliver a letter from his daughter to Santa Claus, came second in Kantar’s rankings after being judged “highly effective” and “very heart-warming”.

Now in its sixth year, Kantar’s annual Christmas TV ad research assessed the reactions of around 3,000 UK consumers to 20 of this year’s Christmas ads to determine their effectiveness in motivating people to buy in the short-term and whether they contribute to the brand’s success in the longer term.

The research also involved facial recognition technology and revealed that the themes of nostalgia and escapism worked for Disney+ too. Kantar judged that its Make Christmas Wonderful ad resonated with viewers because it is both “comforting” and “familiar” during these difficult times.

Kantar recognised that COVID-19 was always going to present advertisers with challenges this year in terms of getting the tone right and, while some succeeded, others – however well-intentioned – have been misunderstood.

Humorous ads performed well, such as Tesco’s No Naughty List and Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot, but Lidl's attempt to parody other brands in A Christmas You Can Believe In fell flat, with just 52% of respondents thinking it was funny compared to 67% for Tesco.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s ‘The Show Must Go On’, which put COVID at the heart of the campaign, was considered the most appropriate ad in the current climate, but not the most effective.

Half of viewers felt it was very appropriate (versus an average of 33%) as well as highly emotive, enjoyable and engendering feelings of warmth towards the brand. However, it failed to integrate the brand and was one of the worst performers on this measure.

Elsewhere, John Lewis, M&S, Morrisons and Walkers all used charity partnerships to convey positive messages about helping others at Christmastime – but the charity connection got lost in some cases.

And Sainsbury’s took the wooden spoon with its ‘Perfect Portions’ ad judged to be the weakest ad this year because Kantar’s panel found it to be unrealistic and depressing.

Sourced from Kantar