Unruly’s content measurement tool unravels what it takes to get top scores in the ranking of this year’s UK festive ads, with McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Disney and Tesco warming hearts the most. But which brand topped the charts?
The winter season is full of many traditions for the British public: family meals, movie marathons and the continual surprise of ‘I can’t believe how dark it is’. But brands and customers alike, tune in intently for the eagerly anticipated, and hotly contested Christmas ads.
For performance marketers looking to optimise investment in the prime real estate of Christmas commercials, metrics for success have shifted from clicks and store visits to more sophisticated brand uplift tools.
Video programmatic platform Unruly goes one step further with a content testing tool, UnrulyEQ, measuring which festive ads are generating the most smiles, laughs, goosebumps and tears from audiences around the world.
The Christmas Ad Effectiveness Chart uses the EQ Score to rank the most popular festive ads based on their emotional, social and business impact. The final score is decided by four factors: the intensity of emotions viewers felt while watching, brand favourability, authenticity and purchase intent.
Approximately 7200 consumers around the world, and approximately 2000 in the UK, took part in the festive study. The results were then compared to Unruly’s database of thousands of ads. They have been ranked on the intensity of emotional response, taking into account the norm levels of emotional response in each market to give a fair global comparison.
The line up consists of all the familiar household brands we’d expect to see including John Lewis, Coca-Cola, Selfridges, McDonald’s, Marks and Spencer, Lidl, Coca Cola and more.
But who took the crown for making the nation smile (or cry) this Christmas?
Most Emotionally Engaging UK Christmas Ads Of 2021
% of positive emotional engagement above UK average
Nothing's Stopping Us
Chimney | Real Magic
Christmas Is What You Make It
Big on a Christmas
Baubles to Last Year
It’s The Very Best Excuse
Christmas to the MAXX
Welcome to JD Street
The Ultimate Gift
Disney holds on to first place
For the second year in a row, Disney has been crowned the most emotionally engaging UK ad. This year’s ad 'The Stepdad' follows the heart-warming story of Mike trying to win the love of his stepchildren, Max and Ella. The mother, Nicole, featured in the 2020 Christmas ad ‘From Our Family To Yours’. 35.8 percent of Brits who watched the ad had an intense positive emotional response to the content, making it 15.2 percent more moving than the average UK ad.
The runners up
Tesco came a very close second with ‘This Christmas, Nothing’s Stopping Us’ featuring various members of the public determined to enjoy a traditional Christmas with family and friends after the misery of lockdown over the holidays in 2020. Tesco was just 0.1 percent behind Disney at 35.7 percent for emotional intensity.
In third place is Coca-Cola with ‘Chimney | Real Magic’. The drinks brand also drew on themes of reconnecting with each other with an uplifting story of a cardboard chimney that brings people together. The advert generated an emotionally intense response in 35.2 percent of people.
The bottom of the scoreboard
Selfridges and Deliveroo scored the least with scores of below average emotional engagement, compared to the rest of UK ads. These ads failed to focus on a story for the viewer to follow and develop an emotional engagement with. Instead, their ads were centred around shopping, a transactional Christmas, clearly establishing that it is an advert with an intent to sell to customers. It was no different than a usual, all-year-round ad but wrapped with a string of tinsel.
How does Disney do it?
The successful ads from Disney, Coca-Cola, Tesco and John Lewis that have topped the leaderboard create a story for the viewer. They don’t focus on the objective to sell the product or service but rather create a short video that is memorable, emotional and encapsulates the Christmas spirit of family, friends and human connection.
Data proves COVID themes still resonate
Terence Scroope, Vice President Insights & Solutions, Unruly EQ says: “Similar to our 2020 global analysis, Disney and Coca-Cola have risen to the top three for producing the most emotionally engaging ads this Christmas. These huge brands have been able to generate creative pieces of imaginative content using a significant budget this holiday season."
“It is encouraging to see a strong bounce back in ad spend from advertisers marketing their products this festive season after 2020’s Christmas budgets were cut in conjunction with the bleakness of lockdown.”
“Interestingly many ad campaigns have moved away from any COVID-19 themes, despite the ongoing pandemic and uncertainty. However, Tesco hinted at this in their ad touting a vaccinated Santa Claus and scored a very impressive second place for the ad, demonstrating that consumers engage emotionally with ads that speak to their reality.”