A week in Christmas ads: Amazon’s Love Actually-esque film hits the spot

The first festive ads of 2019 are out officially of the gate, which means that – for ad land at least – the countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun.

In the lead up to the big day, The Drum will be crunching the numbers to reveal which newly unveiled seasonal spots have resonated most with audiences each week. 

Amazon’s sweet all-singing Love Actually-style ad has won this week’s edition of the Christmas ad wars, according to data from ad ratings company System 1.

As each piece of seasonal creative rolls out, the market research firm is gauging viewers’ emotional responses to campaigns, as well as testing how quickly and strongly they recognise which brand an ad is promoting.

Audiences were asked to determine how they felt about an ad and how powerful that emotion was by giving it an IPA-verified ‘Star Rating’, with System1 saying this indicates long-term growth potential. Short-term sales growth is predicted via a ‘Spike Rating’ which takes into consideration how quickly and strongly people identify which brand a video is promoting. 5.9 is the highest score across both categories.

Though ads from Walkers and Visa caused a splash this week, all of the top-ranking brands bar one this week were retailers.

Megan Li, senior analyst at System 1 said: “So far, we haven’t seen any big surprises, but scores are up after 2018, suggesting brands have got back to basics making solidly enjoyable Christmas ads.”

Scroll down to see the top five ads ranked on first view by both long and short-term potential.

1. Amazon: ‘Everybody Needs Somebody’

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Amazon has stuck with its strategy of celebrating the merriment the holiday season brings with its 2019 effort. The retailer’s Love Actually-style spot features a little girl playing Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, a flirty couple and its hallmark singing parcels.

Amazon has the highest combined score for both emotional response and brand recognition. With a star rating of 5.4 and a spike rating of 1.6 it looks like the brand’s expansion on 2018’s toe-tapping effort will pay off both long and short-term.

2. Argos: ‘The Book of Dreams’

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Argos is marching to the beat of its own drum this Christmas with a widely-lauded spot that brings together a father and daughter for a fantastical festive performance.

The retailer has put its four decade-old catalogue front-and-centre of the campaign with the hope that invoking nostalgia and tradition will drive a sales boost for owner Sainsbury’s.

The rankings place the creative as the second-most impactful after Amazon’s work, attracting a Star Rating of 5 and a spike rating of 1.52.

3. Aldi: ‘Kevin the Carrot – The Greatest Show on Earth’

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The much-beloved Kevin the Carrot has reprised his role as Aldi’s Christmas mascot once more. Inspired by BBC drama Peaky Blinders and blockbuster film The Greatest Shoman, the creative sees an angry bunch of Brummie sprouts (led by malevolent boss Russell) try to turn long-suffering Kevin into a salad.

Though the ad has generated more buzz online than its rivals, System 1 has placed in third position this week.

Audiences awarded it a star rating of 4.7 and a spike rating of 1.3.

4. Barbour: ‘125 Years of Christmas’

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This Christmas, British fashion brand Barbour has adapted Raymond Briggs’ 1991 tale Father Christmas, which presents a dramatically different modern interpretation of the Little St Nick.

To highlight the longevity of its wax jackets, the animation our protagonist in three different decades – the 1930s, 1960s and 2019. And while the children may grow up and homes change, his one constant is the Barbour jacket that helps him overcome the difficulties of delivering presents.

The ad clearly resonated with viewers, who gave it a star rating of 4.4 and a spike rating of 1.2.

5. Iceland: ‘Magic of Frozen’

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Iceland’s Disney Frozen 2 tie-up actually scored higher than Barbour in the Spike category, with a score of 1.5 in terms of its ability to drive short-term sales growth. However, it’s Star Rating was slightly lower at 4.2, putting it in fifth place this week.

The frozen retailer is playing it safe after 2018’s palm-oil focused high risk/high reward campaign came with its own fairytale-style happy ending after some controversy.

For 2019, Iceland’s festive focus is to showcase the ‘Magic of Frozen’ — both the goods it sells and the much-anticipated Disney sequel with the aim of getting people spending in store.

Next week, we’ll find out how newly launched Christmas ads from Boots, M&S, Sainsbury’s and more compare.

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