Acts of kindness and festive goodwill shine bright in this year’s top 5 Christmas ads

During times of economic uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to recognise that gestures of festive goodwill create the true feeling of Christmas. This is a theme that upholds the top performing 2023 Christmas adverts tested by Opinium’s AdVantage team.

After more than 6,000 interviews with UK adults using key metrics from Opinium’s advertising optimisation tool AdVantage, we can reveal the ads that have pulled on the heart strings of viewers and performed best overall. So who is top on this year’s ad-land tree?

Our 2021 winner strikes again: Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot returns to the top spot two years later

Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot lands the top spot with a festive innovation of the classic Willy Wonka tale – Kevin and the Christmas Factory. The ad provides huge enjoyment and is highly relevant to UK adults surveyed, as Kevin is now regarded as a well-loved favourite Christmas ad character, and a distinctive asset for Aldi.

Aldi have created the perfect cocktail of festive emotions – sparking feelings of happiness, comfort, amusement and belonging. With one of our top scores for humour, Aldi delicately emphasise a message of sharing and kindness. Aldi hits the tone right, tapping into the theme of festive goodwill, which is a compelling force behind this year’s top ad.

Overall, supermarkets have performed well this year with Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose featuring in the top 10. Tesco and Asda have lower scores, and despite Asda featuring Michael Bublé, our respondents described the campaign as cheesy and failed to convey the true meaning of Christmas.

Charities are top-of-mind during the cost-of-living crisis and perform well with their authentic Christmas campaigns

This year’s top 5 has a strong charity presence with emotive storytelling from Crisis and Shelter. Crisis tell the true story of Michelle, who received support from the charity in time for Christmas when she found herself on the street with nowhere to go.

Meanwhile, Shelter shows a young girl Maddie overhearing the well-known phrase that she will be on Santa’s nice list if she’s ”good as gold”. Despite her best efforts, she wakes up on Christmas day in a derelict flat, with no presents to her name and her struggling mum by her side.

As you might expect both ads instigate a powerful emotional reaction from viewers, driving feelings of sadness, anger and hope. They are the most motivating ads and also score well against our overall social index, showing the effectiveness of the campaigns, hitting the public hard.

It’s never too late to embrace your inner child

Up next, we see Amazon’s ‘Joy Ride’ sledge into the top 5, showing friends reminiscing about their childhood together. Scoring highly on musical enjoyment, the ad evokes feelings of love and happiness. Playing a cover of the Beatles’ ‘In My Life’ by Nico Casal, the slowed-down music is reminiscent of John Lewis ads of old. The ad rates well on enjoyment, attention and understanding. However, Amazon falls down the ladder in terms of motivation to purchase from, with a comparably low score, below our benchmark.

Name a more fabulous farm… than TK Maxx?

Historically, fashion retailers have failed to cut through the noise and pull themselves into the top 5 list. However, this year, TK Maxx’s festive farm has made a fabulous impression with one of our highest scores for grabbing attention, with the fashionista goat making a comeback from 2021. The ad is enjoyable and relevant, showing farm-yard animals in designer wear bought for less. Within the top three scores for humour, the glamorous farmyard also performs above our benchmark for music enjoyment, making it a great all-rounder.

Looking at the top 5, the ads that have performed well have thoughtful gestures of goodwill embedded into their story, resonating with viewers during the cost-of-living crisis. Humour and goodwill have topped the tree in the end, in the form of Kevin the Carrot – who understands the true meaning of Christmas.