Which Aussie advertising campaign won Christmas 2016?

Eight of Australia's Christmas ad campaigns were put to the test to measure their creative effectiveness. Phil Toppi, managing director at SenseCheck, reveals the results in this guest post.

With the festive season now well and truly upon us, the level of anticipation and excitement around the unveiling of Christmas campaigns seems to kick up another gear each year.


But with much of the media attention fixated on the likes of Marks & Spencer, H&M, Sainsbury’s and John Lewis (the latter of which saw #BusterTheBoxer become Unruly’s number one most shared ad of 2016), we decided instead to take a look at how our home-grown Aussie talent stacks up.

To do this, we used the SenseCheck on-demand platform to measure the creative effectiveness of eight locally produced TV campaigns. The results are summarised below, ranked using the SenseCheck Rating (a summary measure of the overall creative strength of the ad).

  1. Cadbury — ‘Joy Deliveries‘ — SenseCheck Rating: 68
  2. Officeworks — ‘Hunting for the perfect Christmas gift‘ — SenseCheck Rating: 63
  3. Myer — Saving Santa’s Star — SenseCheck Rating: 57
  4. David Jones — ‘How do you do Christmas?‘ — SenseCheck Rating: 52
  5. Australia Post —’Christmas Deliveries‘ — SenseCheck Rating: 50
  6. Woolworths —’Christmas Street Party‘ — SenseCheck Rating: 49
  7. Telstra — ‘ Give the gift of connection this Christmas‘ — SenseCheck Rating: 48
  8. Aldi —’Nothing beats the perfect Aussie Christmas‘ —  SenseCheck Rating: 45

In what may come as a bit of a shock to some, sitting in top spot was Cadbury with its ‘Joy Deliveries’ spot.

Firstly, we acknowledge this wasn’t produced locally; rather it has been adapted for the Australian marketplace.

Nonetheless, what it does prove beyond doubt is that great copy can transcend international borders. Cadbury received the highest ‘Captivating’ score (a composite measure of the ad’s ability to get noticed and be remembered for the brand), even though it ranks fourth for both Attention and Likeability.


Cadbury: “one of the strongest ads we’ve ever seen”

Where ‘Joy Deliveries’ excels is the strength of Branding, which at 77% places it as one of the strongest ads we’ve ever seen. The style, colours and cues make the ad unmistakably for Cadbury, while it is also seen to be a good fit with the brand.

Going down to the bottom of the list sees Aldi sitting in last place, with its ‘Nothing beats the perfect Aussie Christmas’ spot featuring American family, the Tinkletons. Admittedly, this one shocked me because it was a personal favourite of mine. However, after hearing my Mum bemoan “not this ad again!” when over for a family dinner recently, it reminded me of the importance of being cautious when utilising humour in advertising.

‘Nothing beats the perfect Aussie Christmas’ generated the lowest level of Likability and the highest level of Annoyance. Subsequently, half of those who have seen the ad now claim to be fed up with it. Consumer feedback echoes this disappointment:

  • “Pretty obnoxious in content and presentation. Has nothing to do with the real spirit of Christmas. Pretty crass”
  • “That the family appeared to accept the incredibly rude, nasty, disruptive, evil people at the end”

Aldi’s ‘Nothing beats the perfect Aussie Christmas’ generated the lowest level of Likability and the highest level of Annoyance

Sitting just ahead of Aldi was Telstra, with its ‘Give the gift of connection this Christmas’ TVC.

The concept centres around highlighting how Telstra’s products and services can help to connect and bring families together at Christmas; however, it didn’t quite hit the mark. Consumers didn’t find it particularly Persuasive or Different to other brands, while it also had the lowest level of Social Amplification (likelihood of being talked about or shared).

  • “The impression that everyone needs to have a phone in their hand all day on Christmas day which I don’t really like, especially at the dinner table”
Telstra's 'Give the gift of connection this Christmas'

Telstra’s ‘Give the gift of connection this Christmas’

Perhaps the biggest surprise packet of the lot was Officeworks’ ‘Hunting for the perfect Christmas gift’ – coming in at second place, followed by Myer’s ‘Saving Santa’s Star’ rounding out the top three.

Both are animated spots, with Officeworks depicting the story of a little girl being led on majestic adventure by her grandfather, while Myer sees the return of Angel, Elf, Mouse and Reindeer from its highly successful 2015 campaign.

These two ads ranked number one or two for Likeability, Interest, Uniqueness and Social Amplification. What they highlight is how effective animation can be in driving emotional engagement during the festive period, with family, fun, togetherness and adventure being prominent themes recalled by consumers:

  • “I like that it was about family and adventure, but most of all family and happiness. It was about the gift of giving and adventure” (Officeworks)
  • “The characters were quirky and fun, the theme was entertaining and overall, it seemed quite creative and interesting” (Myer)

The success of Officeworks’ campaign reminds us of how effective animation can be in driving emotional engagement

Coming in behind Myer at number four was David Jones’ ‘How do you do Christmas?, featuring Aussie celebrity actress Cate Blanchett. A beautifully produced piece by TBWA \ Sydney, Likeability is strong and sits ahead of the number one ad overall, Cadbury.

However, unlike Cadbury, Branding is weak. This a function of the role the brand plays not being particularly clear, unique or well integrated into the memorable parts of the ad. It is also subsequently the cause of Comprehension issues for viewers, who are having to work hard to try to figure out what brand the ad is for:

  • “It wasn’t very much about DJ’s…more about ways of celebrating Christmas”

So what are the key learnings from these eight locally-produced campaigns that advertisers can use to help to ensure their Christmas campaign in 2017 is a success?

David Jones' 'How do you do Christmas?'

David Jones’ ‘How do you do Christmas?’ campaign “made viewers work hard to figure out what brand the ad is for”

Emotions matter

Creating emotional appeal is important in advertising (stating the bleeding obvious, I know!). However, it is particularly important during the festive period when consumers are more likely to think with their hearts rather than their heads.

Feelings of happiness, affection and excitement underpinned some of this year’s best performers. However, make sure you select the right emotions for your brand and ensure you maintain consistency in your approach.

Make the brand central

Natalie Atkinson recently wrote a piece for Mumbrella about the importance of not forgetting the brand in the pursuit of creating engaging content, and she was bang on the money.

All too often advertising dollars are wasted creating beautiful copy which stimulates an intense emotional response, yet consumers either can’t remember who the ad was for, or – worse still – misattribute it to another brand. Ensure the brand has a clear role and purpose in the ad.

Be careful when using humour

Humour can be an incredibly powerful emotion in advertising when executed correctly, but all too often we see it go wrong. Humour can help cut through the clutter – particularly at Christmas time where we tend to see brands use a gentler tone of communication – but it can also be polarising.

Ensure copy is pre-tested amongst consumers to understand whether intended humour is likely to hit the mark.

Phil Toppi is the managing director at on-demand advertising measurement agency, SenseCheck


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