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UK Insights

A is for awesome adverts: Amazon, Argos and Aldi produce most impactful Christmas ads

Kirsty Cooke

Head of Digital Content, UK

Brands 05.12.2017 / 09:28


2017’s most effective ads combine great storytelling that connects emotionally, with relevant and motivating messaging, says Kantar Millward Brown.

December is here, which means it’s time to talk seriously about bringing trees indoors, mulling everything in sight, and assessing which brand has produced the best Crimbo advert in the eyes of UK consumers.

Amazon offers this year’s most impactful advert, according to Kantar Millward Brown’s annual research into festive ad effectiveness. Consumers reviewed ads from 17 leading brands and retailers, scoring each on 12 factors that are proven to motivate people to buy, and build a strong brand in the long term.

The strongest all-round performer, Amazon’s Give scored highly with viewers in seven of the 12 measures. Consumers found it ‘different’ from the other ads they saw, which means that it stood out among the noise. They also felt that the brand came through distinctly in the ad, and that they were provided with relevant and believable information that meets their needs – making them want to take action as a result of seeing it.

Argos was another high performer with its advert Ready for Take Off, getting a top score for ‘involvement’, meaning that viewers connected strongly with the story. They also saw the ad as different, relevant and believable. Argos has been offering same-day scheduled delivery for two years, but this message feels particularly relevant and resonates with people as though it is a new idea.

Amongst the food retailers, Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot 2017 scored well across all factors. Consumers enjoyed it more than any other ad, and it was also the most ‘loved’ ad of all. It has a tone that is funny and sweet, and Aldi has created a series of follow-up executions to keep its brand front of mind with consumers.

Aldi is Britain’s second fastest growing supermarket. The retailer attracted 11.9 million households during the past three months, and increased sales by 13.1%, advancing its market share to 6.7% of the UK grocery market, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

Morrisons and M&S also get an honourable mention from Kantar Millward Brown. Free From (Morrisons) tells a clear story that places the brand in the starring role, and by focusing on a niche range it provides new information with a topical product-centric message. Paddington (M&S), which scored second highest on ‘enjoyment’, tells a heart-warming and fun story that features appealing characters, and the brand is instantly recognisable through the style and music.

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Ding dong merrily on high

The recipe for this year’s most effective ads is a combination of great storytelling that engages people’s emotions, and a single clear message that makes them want to act. Strong stories build memorable and lasting impressions – many retailers and brands went for a light-hearted, upbeat, fun, festive approach this year, perhaps in response to the national mood. Messages about explicit functional benefits were made highly relevant by demonstrating the benefits in a tangible and creative way.

Jane Bloomfield, Head of UK Marketing at Kantar Millward Brown, says: “The two most impactful ads, from Amazon and Argos, have strong visual cues, strong creativity and good storytelling with a clear benefit for the consumer. Instead of hammering their message home, they weave brand messages into a story that is genuinely involving and enjoyable. Ads that engage emotionally perform better than those that deliver an explicit message; the best of this year’s crop managed both. A great story can seed ideas, associations and feelings that are triggered during the purchase process, even long after the ad was last seen.”

The ads which consumers found less impactful tended to be based on a good idea that wasn’t particularly well executed – often because the brand did not have a clear role in the ad, or because the ad lacked a purpose. Bloomfield notes, “If a brand focuses exclusively on telling a great story, but forgets its own role or doesn’t have a clear purpose for the consumer, it can generate some enjoyment and love but does very little else.”

Do you hear what I hear?

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 that people were identifying with the story. Only the John Lewis campaign had a substantial presence on Twitter this year, although analysis shows that engagement was less organic as people had fewer conversations amongst each other about the campaign. While there were several communities engaging with the campaign, most were retweeting specific influencers’ tweets.

Moz _John Lewis _Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

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 rationalise, post-event, how they felt. Results showed that consumers enjoyed John Lewis’s ad, Moz the Monster, generates significant levels of smiles – but the facial coding trace suggests emotional engagement is lost towards the end. There is also evidence to suggest that Moz is polarising, lacking the universal appeal of previous characters.

In comparison, Marks & Spencer’s Paddington, one of the most enjoyed ads this year, shows an increase in smiles as the ad goes on, and the blockbuster-style storyline keeps consumers hooked throughout its entirety. For Amazon, scene-by-scene analysis reveals uplifts in smiles during individual scenes featuring the singing boxes, which act as strong triggers for the brand, with Amazon being the most well-branded Christmas ad this year. 

In the consumer survey, Amazon’s Give scored highest on Branding (4.47 out of 5),Sets the trends (3.79/5), Makes me want to buy/use (3.78/5), Relevant information (3.78/5), Believable information (3.92/5), Different from others (3.79/5), and Delivers main things I need (3.98/5). The other factors measured were Made me love the brand, Involvement, Enjoyment, Different Information and New Information

Source : Kantar Millward Brown, Kantar TNS, Kantar Worldpanel

Editor's Notes

Using its AdExpress performance measurement tool, Kantar Millward Brown tested 2017 Christmas advertisements from 17 brands and retailers against these 12 key factors: Branding, Involvement, Enjoyment, Made me love (brand), Sets the trends, Persuasion, New information, Different information, Relevant information, Believable information, Different from others, Delivers main things I need. Eleven of the factors are scored on a scale of 1-5, while ‘Involvement’ is scored on a scale of 1-10. In addition, facial coding analysis was conducted on ads by Amazon, Boots, Debenhams, eBay, John Lewis, M&S and Sainsbury’s.

Through online self-completion interviews, 620 UK adults each evaluated three ads, giving a base size of c. 80 respondents per ad. 

The research was was conducted during the third week in November. 

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