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    Coca Cola, Duracell lead most effective, entertaining Christmas ads

    Image by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo/File Photo

    Coca-Cola’s ‘Holidays are coming’ has taken the crown as the best Christmas ad this year, closely followed by Cadbury and Duracell, a recent analysis suggests.

    According to a recent report by Kantar, Christmas ads this year have delivered a staggering 67 percentile improvement on effectiveness – based on metrics including consumer enjoyment, entertainment and the incorporation of the brand – compared with 2021 when festive campaigns languished in the bottom 16 per cent of all ads on average.

    Using facial coding technology, which analyses viewers expressions and reactions, and feedback from 3,600 consumers, Coca-Cola’s ‘Holidays are coming’ takes the crown as the best Christmas ad this year, but it was McDonald’s which delivered the festive laughs. Both Cadbury and Duracell were hot on Coca-Cola and McDonald’s heels.

    Lynne Deason, head of creative excellence at Kantar, comments, “Getting an emotional response from consumers – especially making them laugh – is one of the most powerful ways for ads to stand out and be remembered.  McDonald’s struck that note brilliantly, creating one of the funniest, Christmas ads. 

    The beauty of the ad was that the brand didn’t get lost in the laughs – it was central to the story and played cleverly on the established ‘Raise your Arches’ creative platform, tapping into Christmas culture in Britain of not always enjoying season’s traditions. In the short term though, when we look at likelihood to drive immediate sales, the product wasn’t quite present enough, and that was one of the big factors in Coca-Cola nabbing the number one spot.

    “Few people will be surprised to see the words ‘Coca-Cola’ and ‘top Christmas ads’ in the same sentence. When anyone talks about Christmas ads ‘Holidays are Coming’ is always one of the first to come to mind.  This year the enjoyment of the ad is even greater than when it aired in 2020, reaching the top 2 per cent of the most enjoyable ads ever.  We also see more sentimentality appearing on people’s faces as they watch it.  Nostalgia – like that brought about by this fabulous ad from Coca-Cola – is particularly powerful when times are tough and we’ve certainly seen that come through in the data this year. The consistency and enjoyment deliver by ‘Holidays are Coming’, together with the brand being front and centre throughout, means it’s the best in an extremely competitive field.”

    Duracell’s ‘Bunny saves Christmas’ ad shows that product centric advertising can be highly effective at Christmas, when it’s entertaining. Duracell’s unique selling point – its ability to keep going longer than other batteries – saves Christmas, as the famous Duracell bunny replaces the unbranded batteries in Rudolph’s lights.  Kantar’s data shows it’s among the very top Christmas ads this year, performing particularly powerfully on key effectiveness indicators such as being different to other brands, humour and overall enjoyment.

    Christmas ads have established themselves as a cultural moment for the British public, and this year the creative industry has pulled out all the stops.  Many wish advertising throughout the year was as good as it is during this time.

    Deason continues: “Christmas ads are famous for how emotive and enjoyable they are, and in 2023, with many more ads using humour, music and entertainment to greater effect, this has never been truer. This year’s ads aren’t just entertaining they are also more effective, in both the short and long term.  But it doesn’t mean ‘job done’ for advertisers.  The focus now should be on maintaining this momentum throughout the year – good creative should be for life, not just for Christmas.

    “This year we have also seen more than ever that having the boldness to stick with what works, rather than constantly reinventing the wheel, pays dividends, delivering more effective results.  Cadbury chose to go down that route, using the same ‘Secret Santa’ creative idea as last year. The ad performed excellently – even slightly better than it did in 2022 – and landing itself in our top four ads. 

    “What’s clear from a lot of 2023’s success stories is that there is real value in consistency.  Keeping with a great idea not only builds awareness of your brand, but also what makes it feel different from others, helping it stick in people’s hearts and minds more effectively. My call to brands and advertisers for next year is don’t let the buzz and pressure of Christmas make you forget what works.”

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