Christmas ads have become an annual event for brands and for the British public, but it’s often hard to predict which ones will resonate most strongly with audiences at home. Our analysis of 2021’s top campaigns
shows that the most effective this year have been those which lift our spirits, take a distinctive approach, and use entertaining storylines to capture the mood of the nation.
The data tells us that 35% of British people feel this Christmas is more important than last, and that we’re less focused on big spending, suggesting the real meaning of the season is what matters again. And it is the ads which embody this feeling with fun and a feel good factor that have captured hearts and minds this year.
Here for a good time
Aldi is the standout performer overall. Its team and McCann Manchester used humour especially well, taking the now familiar Kevin the Carrot to a new level and presenting something which is both joyful and puts the brand centre stage.
The ad establishes a rich and involved narrative, introducing new characters to Kevin’s world, but avoids confusing viewers by using one of one of the world’s most recognisable and historic Christmas tales – Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Dickens described the holidays as "a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time”, values that are increasingly important to British consumers. The pandemic has put a spotlight on the power of philanthropy and generosity, and the inclusion of ‘Marcus Radishford’ – a moment that really made people smile – communicates the social impact the brand is delivering in an intuitive way, without making viewers feel sombre or sad.
Others which did well for similar reasons included Celebrations, with its Lonely Bounty campaign, and Marks and Spencer’s Percy Pig Comes to Life. Both employ fun characters to lead light-hearted stories in a distinctive and brand centric way – hitting just the right tone for viewers.
Keep it close to home
The second part of Aldi’s success is the way it has expressed multi-layered ideas while staying authentic to its brand personality. According to Kantar’s BrandZ research
, Aldi is seen as a combination of a free-spirit and a joker. The campaign reflects this, helped by the presence of Kevin himself who has become the face of the retailer. That is incredibly important. It’s no good having an engaging, hilarious, or heart-warming ad if the brand isn’t centric to it.
Perhaps the best proof of this point is Coca-Cola, which scores consistently well with its classic Holidays-are-coming campaign. Both iconic and nostalgic, it has helped Coke to become almost synonymous with Christmas, and it scored in the top 2% of all ads in the UK this year based on branding. It is also the most likely ad to encourage an immediate short term sales response.
Know your audience
The best Christmas ads each year come with a sprinkle of magic. Fundamentally, they connect with the public mood and they link strongly to the brand they are there to promote. This year people are more determined than ever to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas, to have fun, and to feel festive – all things which ring true with 2021’s best campaigns.