How did this year’s Christmas adverts perform?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
December 20, 2019, 1:00 PM GMT+0

Are Christmas adverts an effective marketing tool? Or a costly tradition?

The release of Christmas adverts is now a traditional part of the festive season, but with so much hype and retailers all in competition to produce the most compelling advert, does the cost translate into benefit for the business?

Ad awareness

Ad awareness is a key measurement for advertising performance, in which we ask panellists if they have seen and advert for a particular brand in the past two weeks. We have indexed the scores to 100 starting on November 11th to allow us to compare how each brand has done during the holiday season.

Looking at the data for the major UK supermarkets, it is clear that John Lewis and Partners (which includes Waitrose) stormed ahead of the competition.

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Following the release of their Christmas advert, starring Excitable Edgar the dragon, in November, their indexed ad awareness score jumped an impressive 300% and has remained high throughout December. In comparison, Sainsbury’s advert, released around the same time and featuring Nicholas the Sweep, only saw a rise of around 80% in the brands ad awareness score.

For the high street retailers such as Debenhams and Marks & Spencer’s retail, the story is similar. Even Amazon, who released their ad earlier than competing brands, saw little change in their ad awareness over the period.

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Debenhams’ Christmas advert saw its indexed ad awareness score jump to a high of 200% whereas some brands, such as Very, saw their ad awareness scores actually dip over the course of November and December. Even online giant Amazon saw only modest changes in its indexed ad awareness scores.


Our consideration score asks whether someone would consider purchasing from a particular brand, by comparing this with our ad awareness data we can examine if Christmas adverts do translate into business for a brand - again we have indexed these figures to compare potential growth in score across brands.

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The data shows that despite a huge 300% percentage point jump in their indexed ad awareness score, John Lewis and Partners’ (which includes Waitrose) consideration score, while improving over the period, doesn’t correlate. In fact the brand with the best uptick in their consideration was Marks and Spencer, which saw their indexed score jump to just under 130%.

Of the retailers, Very saw big changes in its indexed consideration score, rising as high as 140% and dropping below 100%. Amazon, on the other hand, despite putting out a substantial Christmas advert campaign, saw little variation in its consideration scores.

If we look at the raw consideration scores, not indexed for comparison, a pattern reveals itself. Larger brands like Amazon have higher consideration scores to begin with, for example Amazon averages 69% across this period compared to 10% for Very.

Are Christmas adverts worth the hassle?

What our data suggests is that Christmas advertising could have a more tangible result for smaller, less well known brands, but for bigger brands the ads are great for exposure. We can see this through BrandIndex Word of Mouth scores, which asks which of the following brands panellists talked about with friends and family in the past two weeks (whether in person, online, or through social media).

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For retailers like John Lewis, their Christmas campaigns bring in big jumps in its indexed Word of Mouth score, but as we saw earlier the brands consideration score remains fairly stable. Looking at Very however, the Word of Mouth score doesn’t achieve the same peaks as often, yet the Brands consideration score received the biggest boost relative to its score in early November.

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What the data ultimately shows us is that consumers will already be considering shopping with Amazon, has shown by its higher score, and Christmas advertising is unlikely to sway a substantial number of new customers because their customer base is already so wide, this is also true for the likes of John Lewis and Partners, whose average consideration score was also high at 45%. However, for smaller brands competing brands such as Very, Christmas advertising has the potential to be much more valuable.

Image: Aldi

Learn more about YouGov BrandIndex here