Supermarket elves and solidarity: UK consumers’ top Christmas ads of 2022

The Christmas countdown is on. In the challenge to find the right tone with the public, who will make it to the top of the advertising effectiveness tree?

The Opinium AdVantage team are on hand to reveal which ads went down best with the public. After 6,000 interviews with UK adults using key metrics from Opinium’s advertising optimisation tool AdVantage, we can reveal the adverts that performed best.

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is… with an Elf in a supermarket?

Hitting the right notes across the board this year is Asda in top spot overall, as well as being number one for humour and this year’s most viral ad. There are classic Christmas films that we choose to watch year on year, Asda have played on this with the surprise appearance of Will Ferrell as ‘Buddy the Elf’.

The well-loved favourite Christmas character provides huge enjoyment and attention scores. As Buddy enthusiastically helps Asda staff members in the run up to Christmas decorating the supermarket, we see the strongest brand linkage out of all the Christmas ads. Asda have found the perfect mix of a Christmas feel-good factor, whilst not distracting from the brand itself, getting the tone just right this year.

Chocolate + Christmas = winning combination

Up next is Cadbury, with their ‘Secret Santa Postal Service’, bringing the public together through sharing chocolate. This message of social harmony and generosity scores highly on understanding. At a time of economic uncertainty, the gesture of sending a small token to a loved one gets the tone right. The instantly recognisable purple post boxes additionally keep the brand linkage score high, one of the key reasons we see Cadbury consistently amongst the top performers year after year.

Lindor – another chocolate brand – comes in fifth overall but tops the consideration charts this year, with Cadbury following closely behind. Chocolate and Christmas time have always gone hand in hand, and even in times of uncertainty and tight budgets, many will certainly treat themselves to chocolate. The brand is integral to both Lindor and Cadbury executions. The only measure that lets Lindor down is difference. It may not be the ad winning awards for creative uniqueness, but it’s doing what advertising is meant to do: drive consideration.

Battle of the Bear and Carrot

Taking the third spot overall this year is Lidl, with the introduction of a new brand character ‘Lidl Bear’. The advert shows a dad mistakenly shrinking his Lidl jumper, before the bright idea of giving it to the bear. With this, the tiny expressionless bear finds unlikely fame becoming the face of Lidl’s Christmas campaign. The family setting and Lidl bear provoke all the right emotions of happiness, belonging and comfort.

Speaking of famous characters, what’s happened to Kevin? We see the return of the old favourite Kevin the Carrot in Aldi’s advert, coming 8th place this year. Although creatively the ad does very well, with enjoyment and attention scoring high, interestingly it’s the lack of brand linkage that lets the advert down. Given the characters heritage and past success it is surprising to see a weak performance in this area. It seems that the public’s love for Kevin has become detached from the brand itself.

Emotional Rollercoasters

John Lewis comes in at number 11 this year, just missing out on the top 10. This storytelling ad shows a man learning to skateboard to bond with a young girl he is fostering over Christmas. It scores highly on instinctive engagement and emotional reaction provoking inspiration, hope and love amongst the public. Clearly the message here was not necessarily promoting the brand and the wider coverage that John Lewis get at this time of year helps but the weak spot in the ad for viewers was knowing who the ad was for.

On similar social lines was ‘Brave Face’ from Shelter, doing emotive storytelling so well the unexpected star of the show comes in at number one on the emotional reaction chart, and ninth in the overall rankings. The campaign follows a young boy practising his brave face smile when times are tough, showing the harsh reality of what many children will be facing over the Christmas period. The ad provokes the emotions of sadness, fear but also hope. The campaign was also second in social shareability, showing the effectiveness of the ad, obviously hitting the public hard.

Tonally Tricky Year

In challenging consumer times there has been a strong element of social solidarity in the strong performers this year. However, humour and nostalgia has topped the tree in the end, in the form of Buddy the Elf in Asda’s execution. The well-known character that many of us have come to cherish every Christmas has done a wonderful job of raising the publics spirits at after all what should be a time for fun and celebration with loved ones.

Have a great Christmas!

Written by Florence Staples, Researcher at Opinium.