Christmas 2019 Hits and Misses

By Dan West (Strategy Director)

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and to enjoy all the Christmas adverts that have been coming in thick and fast over the last few weeks from the UK, USA, and here at home in New Zealand. While we’re proud our very own NZ Post “keeping Ho Ho, Hush Hush”—which picked up a Campaign of the Year Stoppie last week—we thought we’d check out the best of the rest from around the world.

According to data from Kantar TNS, John Lewis and their Edgar the Dragon Christmas ad have been knocked off the top spot by Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot. Aldi’s campaign was in the top 10% of all ads in Kantar’s database, and topped the charts this year for emotional impact and viewer enjoyment, as well as driving long-term brand growth. John Lewis scored highly as well, but fell slightly short for whether people remember the brand. This shows the value of strong, memorable brand assets (like Pak’n Save’s Stickman).

System1 Group’s ad ratings, however, put Edgar the Dragon at the top of the Christmas pile, awarding it the highest star rating awarded of any brand so far this year with a score of 5.8. This was John Lewis’ highest score since Monty the Penguin – something the marketing department at John Lewis will be thrilled to hear after the department store had its first ever half-year loss this September thanks to Brexit and the shift to online shopping.

Unruly, on the other hand, gave Very.co.uk the top spot for emotional advertising, with their “Get More Out of Giving” campaign eliciting a strong emotional response in 40% of viewers to Edgar’s 38%. (Personally, I find that a bit strange but I am a survey of one.)

Other top performers across all of the analyses done were: Tesco’s “Delivering Christmas”, McDonald’s charmingly animated “#Reindeeready“, Asda’s 2-minute long “Let’s Make Christmas Extra Special“, Walker’s “All Mariah Carey Wants this Christmas”, Argos’ banging “Book of Dreams” and Ikea’s grimy “Silence the Critics”. Each of these ads had a mix of feeling festive, being memorable, tugging on the emotional heart strings (to various degrees) and driving potential sales – though none hit all of these requirements as well as John Lewis and Aldi.

Special mentions go across the world to eBay who targeted the Christmas sale creep with “The Holiday Chill”, Apple’s epic “The Surprise” (which has racked up almost 24 million views on YouTube), and Comcast and Sky’s “A Holiday Reunion”, which sees ET come back to visit Elliott and made this child of the ‘80s very happy.

One ad that keeps on giving has been Robert Dyas’ low-budget 2015 Christmas ad, “We’re Robert Dyas and we’re gay. And straight. And bi…”, thanks to being aired on the popular UK TV show Have I Got News For You this year. You can’t under-estimate the power of PR to get an ad talked about.

Which leads me on nicely to the Peloton Christmas ad. It’s a must-watch, with countless memes already created. The version which has been dubbed over with a musical score from Black Mirror is especially poignant. As Twitter user Siraj Hashmi put it: “Nothing says ‘maybe you should lose a few pounds’ like gifting your already rail thin life partner a Peloton”. One person thought it had more in common with a hostage video.

What were the marketing department thinking? Or was it a genius move? An analysis of search data shows a strong correlation between Peloton sales and search trends for the product. For a brand that, I’m betting, has had up until now very little awareness, Peloton have quickly become global news.

The ad has its critics, with many people criticizing it for fat shaming, but those people aren’t likely to buy a Peleton. Despite Peleton’s shares dropping 15% within days of the ad airing, with $1.5 billion wiped off the value of the company, investors are convinced it was simply a case of the business being over-valued and not due to the ad. Research from the IPA would suggest the investors have it right, as they haven’t found a single example of an ad campaign having a negative effect on sales. Mark Ritson also believes the ad may just help them hit ambitious sales targets. It goes to show, as Les Binet said, “advertising is a safe investment”.

One thing I do know is that Ryan Reynolds, at least for me, is a marketing genius. He hired the actress in the Peloton ad to star in his Christmas ad for Aviation Gin, which discusses the aftermath of the Peloton ad, raises a glass (of Aviation Gin) to “new beginnings”, and ends with the line, “You look great, by the way.” Classic.

Date: December 18, 2019