Did you manage to see all, or most of the Christmas ad campaigns this year? We had a whole host of offerings displayed to us from the likes of John Lewis and Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Aldi, Lidl, M&S, Walkers and Amazon…and the list goes on.

It was an impressive commercial array with what seemed like something for everyone; feeling, emotion, humour and festivity. However, as with all good performances, critique and analysis should always follow:

Using information from leading research, data and insight company Kantar – shared exclusively with Marketing Week – we can get an idea of whose offering was best received on the whole.

The researcher asked almost 3,000 consumers what they thought about this year’s crop of Christmas ads, based on eight key measures to determine viewers’ motivation to buy in the short-term and contribute to the brand’s long-term success.

With its ‘Put on an Amazing Show’ 2019 ad, it seemed to be Aldi that achieved an impressive ‘tick all boxes’ score and as such, Marketing Week considered the ad to be the year’s most effective Christmas marketing campaign.

So, what criteria is being looked for?

Well, to measure as successful; there’s a tick list. An ad needs to create emotion, grab attention, immediately motivate, be brand memorable and feel different, whilst importantly, demonstrate the joy of Christmas. It’s a lot to live up to in a mere 30 second slot. However, it’s interesting to use Kanter’s marketing standards to see what we respond to and actually prefer as an audience.

The trend of recent years has been to play up the Christmas emotion card and bring a tear to the eye. It’s been suggested that perhaps too many retailers have now saturated this route, but when it comes down to it, is it actually our favourite narrative, or do we want something other than sentiment and a festively light moral lesson?

John Lewis and Waitrose’s story of Edgar the Dragon did score well on the Kantar chart and succeeded in creating memories, but it didn’t rank as well when it came to driving short-term behaviour and sales.

Asda too had a mixed review, because while people said the ad made them feel emotional and Christmassy, it failed to make it clear that the commercial was for Asda.

The report suggests that M&S’s clothing and home struggled in this area too, as did Boots and Debenhams, while for Lidl the issue was around emotional engagement.

However, back to Aldi’s reported success:

This year the German retailer told a story of Tiny Tom rescuing Kevin the Carrot from the Leafy Blinders against a backdrop of enticing festive food and drink. It ranked highly on emotional impact and viewer enjoyment – coming in within the top 10% of all ads on Kantar’s database (not just Christmas ads), as well as driving long-term brand growth.

The ad won’t have been cheap to produce. It’s rumoured that its backing track is actually sung by Robbie Williams, who according to Celebrity Talent, would cost between £500,000 and £1,000,000 to appear at a private event (although if it is him, his fee to feature in the Aldi ad, even in voice form, is so far unknown).

Such a sum is not as weighty as the price Walker’s allegedly paid for Mariah Carey’s campaign support this year, which was said to come in at a whopping £9 million (however for the price, Walker’s scored in the top range for metrics, creating an ad that proved enjoyable, attention grabbing, celebratory and well branded).

There are definitely achievements for all in the analysis, and it’s difficult to create one advert that can appeal to all. What we deduce from Aldi’s successful review, is that the retailer achieved a balance – creating an ad that was considered enjoyable, attention grabbing and memorable.

To conclude

In the round, it can be said that Christmas ads with their exciting build-up and heralding of the Christmas shopping season, offer an ideal platform for retailers to build their brands. Now more than ever, they set the scene for creating brand perception, rather than pushing the impulse to buy specific products (excluding the associated ad character toy!) and if this is the seasonal goal, then Aldi seems to have scored.

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