The Battle of the Christmas Ads 2017

Every year during the festive period brands go head to head to compete for the best Christmas ad. Whether it’s John Lewis v Marks and Spencer or  Waitrose v Sainsbury’s, most of them tend to spare no expense in creating the most tear-jerking ad.

2016 saw bouncing boxers from John Lewis and James Corden singing in stop-motion animation for Sainsbury’s. 2017 is proving no different, with companies releasing high budget, elaborate adverts that bring out the soft side in everyone.

Here at Adoreboard we used our Emotion AI platform Emotics to analyse the emotions people felt when talking about the festive advertisements online. Understanding the emotional impact of brand messages and advertisements on customers can help brands tap into how customers feel about their brand or product. This allows brands to stay one step ahead of competitors and plan brand messages or marketing campaigns with emotional impact.

The metric used to measure emotional intensity in content is the Adorescore, which will be mentioned throughout this report. The Adorescore is measured on a scale ranging from -100 to 100, the higher the score the more positive the content.

1. Debenhams – “#YouShall Find Your Christmas Fairytale”

Ranking first in our analysis is Debenhams with “#YouShall Find Your Christmas Fairytale”. The ad features a modernisation of the story of Cinderella, following a man’s attempt to find a girl he met on a train using only her missing shoe, the ad concludes with a romantic encounter and cameo from Ewan McGregor.

Mentions of the Debenhams ad produced an Adorescore of 66. The Ewan McGregor narrated advert also drove the highest level of trust​ ​and joy amongst the ads included in the analysis. Viewers liked the fairytale and romantic Cinderella storyline. Many felt it was their favourite ad of the year bringing together a bit of Cinderella and Bridget Jones.

2. Marks & Spencers – “Paddington Bear and the Christmas Visitor #LoveTheBear”

Marks & Spencers’ ad featured the much loved children’s character Paddington Bear (just in time for the premiere of Paddington 2 film launching in cinemas). The ad sees Paddington thwarting a present thief which he mistakes as Santa and helping him return the stolen presents back to their owners and in turn showing the burglar the true meaning of Christmas.

The big budget ad came second in our analysis with an Adorescore of 62 with high levels of joy throughout mentions. Viewers expressed their love for Paddington Bear and the Christmas spirit of the ad.

3. Asda “The Imaginarium”

Asda’s “The Imaginarium” placed 3rd, with an Adorescore of 59. High levels of trust were expressed in response to the use of a Fleetwood Mac classic “Don’t Stop” as the soundtrack instead of an overused tired Christmas song.

The ad features a little girl and her grandfather entering “The Imaginarium” a Charlie and The Chocolate Factory-esque Christmas workshop.

4. Very.co.uk “Anna & Ulfie”

Very.co.uk is a new entrant that didn’t feature in our 2016 analysis. This year they pulled out all the stops to produce an animated adventure featuring a little girl “Anna” and her toy wolf “Ulfie” embarking on a journey to deliver special gifts.

The online retailer placed fourth in our analysis and tied position with Aldi (below) with an Adorescore of 57. The key emotion present throughout mentions was joy with people praising the ad’s important message about giving at Christmas.

4.  Aldi “#KevinAndKatie”

Kevin the carrot made a return for Aldi’s Christmas offering this year. The ad features Kevin embarking on an adventure to meet his new love Katie the carrot. The comical ad received an Adorescore of 57 with high levels of trust expressed due to return of the much loved character.

5. Boots “#ShowThemYouKnowThem”

Boots have come in at 5th place in our analysis and in tied position with Christmas heavyweight John Lewis and Waitrose. The ad #ShowThemYouKnowThem follows the journey of two sisters and their experiences together. The ad shows them exchanging a secret meaningful gift at the end.

The sentimental ad received an Adorescore of 55 with high levels of joy expressed by viewers appreciating the sisterly love focus of the ad. People also took to Twitter with the hashtag #ShowThemYouKnowThem to share special messages and pictures of their own sisters, which drove higher levels of joy to the brand.

5. John Lewis “#MozTheMonster”

While probably being the most hyped ad of the Christmas period, John Lewis failed to dominate our analysis. They came in at 5th place with an Adorescore of 55. The ad failed to live up to expectations set by previous years more emotional ads such as “The Bear and The Hare” and “The Man on the Moon.” Many viewers were felt underwhelmed and disappointed that the ad didn’t have the same emotional impact.

However, there were still many people who enjoyed the comical approach and loveable monster character Moz.

The ad followed a little boy’s friendship with Moz the monster living under his bed.

5. Waitrose “#ChristmasTogether”

Waitrose tied with John Lewis and Boots this year with its “#ChristmasTogether” ad. The ad focused on the message of community spirit featuring villagers snowed in and spending Christmas together in the highest pub in Britain.

Mentions of the ad received an Adorescore of 55 and high levels of joy were driven by those praising the message of togetherness and community.

6. Vodafone “A Christmas Love Story”

At 6th place in our analysis, with an Adorescore of 53, is Vodafone. Their series of ads starred Sherlock and The Hobbit star Martin Freeman and his “Christmas Love Story”. The ad warmed the hearts of many driving joy for its romantic nature and high levels of trust due to Martin Freeman’s starring role.

7. Lidl “#LidlChristmas”

Lidl released a series of ads featuring families at Christmas but have also reaired last year’s emotional “Homecoming” ad. The repeat of the 2016 ad is what has people talking as it is the most emotionally engaging one, the new one not so much.

Lidl have placed 7th in our analysis with an Adorescore of 51. High trust was driven to the brand for the poignant storyline of a widower returning home for Christmas with his family.

8. Sainsbury’s “#EveryBitOfChristmas”

Sainsbury’s comes in at 8th place, a bit of a difference from coming top of our analysis last year. The grocer decided to strip it back this year with a sing-along ad featuring their customers and employees. A long shot from last year’s all singing all dancing James Corden voiced stop-motion musical extravaganza.

The ad generated an Adorescore of 49 with mixed feelings from customers. Many enjoyed the musical element whilst others were left disappointed due to the hype built from last year’s ad.

9. Tesco “#EveryonesWelcome”

Tesco has placed 9th in our analysis with an Adorescore of 31 with high levels of sadness​ and anger​ driven by comments from some slating the inclusion of non-Christian religions in the advert, while others have hit back calling these comments racist and discriminatory. Tesco have also got involved in the discussion, standing by their inclusion of all individuals. Whilst some people love the ad, backlash and arguments on Twitter have driven the Adorescore down.

10. Amazon “Dad hiding presents”

Amazon’s ad featuring a dad hiding his presents from his children has driven high levels of anger from parents complaining the ad implies Santa isn’t real and spoils Christmas for their children. The high levels of anger has resulted in the much loved online retailer getting a low Adorescore of -5.

The clear winners of the battle of the Christmas ads 2017 are Debenhams and Marks and Spencers. They have successfully produced festive advertisements that drive feelings of joy and trust. Emotion is a key tool in marketing. The ability to engage with customers on a more personal level can improve brand trust and loyalty. People who can emotionally connect with a brand view it as more attractive.

This highlights the value of emotion in marketing. Adoreboard has created a way to use analytics to gain insights into people’s emotional reactions online. Our emotion A software Emotics can help quantify how the world feels about your brand. To find out how our software can help you or to book a free demo, click here.