Lidl’s Christmas Turkey is 2016’s most powerful Christmas TV advertisement, according to research carried out by Kantar Millward Brown. It tested 19 of this year’s most talked-about ads with consumer audiences using its AdExpress performance measurement tool, with respondents scoring each ad on 12 factors that are proven to drive sales and build long-term brand engagement.
Lidl’s Christmas Turkey – which features a sceptical social media commentator spending a day with a Lidl turkey farmer – achieved the highest score in 9 of the 12 areas, making it the all-round strongest performer. Consumers found it highly involving, and felt it was the most relevant, believable, well-branded, different and informative ad. Most importantly, it scored top in ‘persuasion’ – making it the ad most likely to motivate viewers to buy from the brand.
Viewers found John Lewis’s Buster the Boxer the most ‘enjoyable’ ad, as well as the third most persuasive. It generates high levels of love for the brand, and gives the impression that John Lewis is trend-setting and different from other brands. Facial coding – which analyses people’s expressions as they watch – showed a very strong positive emotional response, meaning Buster is likely to drive long term affinity with the brand as well as short-term sales.
Boots improved on its 2015 performance with The Gift of Beauty – a more relevant ad that stands out from the crowd and is second only to Lidl in terms of persuasion. The retailer connects strongly with customers by using real people, and a niche and important group amongst them, to communicate a different message in a different way.
Amazon Prime’s The Priest and the Imam also performed well across the board, with viewers finding it inventive and involving. Argos’s visually arresting and memorable ice-skating Christmas Yetis was the second most involving ad, and stood out by focusing on one clear message about same day delivery. Viewers responded positively, scoring it highly on ‘providing new information’ and ‘delivering the main things I need’. M&S brought drama and excitement to Christmas with Love from Mrs Claus, creating an enjoyable ad that, while not necessarily telling viewers anything new, reinforces existing positive perceptions.
Jane Bloomfield, Head of UK Marketing at Kantar Millward Brown, says: “After an eventful year 2016’s Christmas advertising serves to entertain and lighten the mood, with many returning to a traditional style. However, Lidl’s ad makes an impact by communicating a very single-minded, relevant and compelling story with no bells and jingles. It successfully challenges perceptions about product quality, and makes us feel good about choosing Lidl for our Christmas shop, which sets it up well to repeat the sales increases it reported last year. This ad is definitely no turkey!
“John Lewis’s Christmas advertising is the gift that keeps on giving. Last year’s Man on the Moon created an emotional connection, but perhaps left us feeling a little melancholy. This year’s ad is significantly more upbeat, with a lovely story, flow and pacing that keeps consumers ‘hooked’ throughout and reaffirms the love that many hold for the brand. The use of music, animals, family and familiar Christmas challenges creates feelings of relevance and helps consumers connect.”
Research agency Kantar TNS analysed the social media conversations generated by the Christmas campaigns, paying attention both to the amount of sharing, and whether conversation patterns showed people identifying with the story. John Lewis achieved more than four times the Twitter mentions of its nearest rival – and this reach built extremely quickly, with 50% of all tweets happening by the day after the ad was released. In terms of conversations, there is strong evidence of autonomous sharing across networks, with communities taking ownership rather than simply retweeting brand content. M&S has increased its social mentions, going from under 2,000 in 2015 to almost 20,000 in 2016. However, its conversation footprint illustrates the sharing of a broadcasting message rather than the organic/sustained engagement achieved by John Lewis. The importance of Christmas films being shared and recommended on social media is growing – providing a crucial advantage for brands that can tell compelling Christmas stories.
In the consumer survey, Lidl’s Christmas Turkey scored highest on ‘involvement’ (mean score 6.84; ‘norm’ 4.55), ‘branding’ (4.15/3.91), ‘sets trends’ (3.56/3.12), ‘persuasion’ (3.44/2.98), ‘new information’ (3.82/3.21), ‘different information’ (3.81/3.07), ‘relevant information’ (3.62/3.16), ‘believable’ (3.94/3.63) and ‘different from other brands’ (3.53/3.19).
For some of the ads Kantar Millward Brown’s research has included facial coding, which analyses people’s facial expressions as they watch to get a true emotional response, before they have a chance to post-rationalise how they felt. This showed that John Lewis’s ad was gripping from start to finish, slowly building an emotional connection with Buster. It performs in the top 10% of all UK ads in its ability to generate smiles and emotion, and to create affinity with the brand.
The 10 Christmas ads assessed to be most effective in terms of increasing all-important short-term sales, with consumers scoring them highest on ‘persuasion’, are:
- Lidl Christmas Turkey 44
- Boots The Gift of Beauty 39
- John Lewis Buster the Boxer 37
- M&S Christmas with Love From Mrs Claus 35
- Aldi Kevin the Carrot 33
- Amazon The Priest and the Imam 33
- Morrison’s Morrison’s Makes It 31
- Argos Christmas Yetis 26
- Very Get More Out of Giving 19
- Waitrose Home for Christmas 14