LONDON: Many of the UK’s top retailers have again splashed out on cinematic-style blockbuster ads in the run up to Christmas, but with consumers cutting back on their spending there is evidence that simpler ads could be more effective.

John Lewis’s Moz the Monster and Marks & Spencer’s ad featuring Paddington Bear are just two examples of campaigns that tug on the heart strings this festive season.

But new research for Marketing Week has found that ads that emphasise value for money and that promote products are winning favour with UK consumers.

Marketing Week commissioned Toluna, the question-and-answer service, to poll 1,000 UK consumers about this year’s Christmas ads from 13 retailers.

When asked whether a Christmas ad had positively changed their perception of a brand, consumers cited Amazon (40%), Argos (28%) and Aldi (22%). By contrast, John Lewis’s blockbuster ad came second to bottom in the list.

Amazon’s ad – which features a dad hiding from his children a delivery box filled with electrical goods – was also the one that respondents enjoyed the most (44%).

Although the ad has come in for criticism from some parents because it shows a father, rather than Santa, bringing home presents, it was twice as popular as the John Lewis ad (21%) among the consumers questioned by Toluna.

“We sometimes lose sight of the fact the whole point of Christmas advertising is to sell more stuff,” said Bryan Roberts, Global Insights Director at TCC Global.

“It’s great making an Oscar standard piece of cinema [like John Lewis] but at the same time we must remember advertising is about providing the benefits of becoming or remaining one of your customers.”

Meanwhile, catalogue retailer Argos has sought to cheer people up at a time of economic uncertainty with a comedic ad featuring elves that talk up the company’s speed of delivery.

“The news hasn’t been very inspiring this year” said Garry Kibble, Marketing Director at Argos. “Therefore, lightness of touch and a message of fun and hope is what British consumers really want.”

And Sainsbury’s, the UK’s second-largest supermarket chain, has opted for a simple ad filmed in black and white that just features real customers and employees singing along to a festive song.

Explaining the rationale behind its pared-down approach, Laura Boothby, Sainsbury’s Head of Broadcast Communications, said: “The Christmas ad hype is pretty much done in about two weeks’ time. Everyone is launching them now, there’s lots of noise on social, but by about the 20 November people are over it.”

Sourced from Marketing Week, Daily Mail; additional content by WARC staff