Opinion

The results are in: Which Aussie ad campaign won Christmas 2018?

Cubery (formerly Sensecheck) recently ran its annual study looking into the effectiveness of 13 locally-produced Christmas ads. Its methodology puts the campaigns to the ultimate test: the consumer. Phil Toppi, Cubery's managing director, reveals the results in this guest post.

There is nothing which gets us more excited about the festive season than the advertising, an annual ritual which sees brands come out with all guns blazing in an attempt to win Christmas. 2018 marks the third year in a row we have tested the effectiveness of Australian Christmas ads, a study which speaks to the people who matter the most – the ones advertisers are trying to influence.

Methodology

Each ad was tested amongst a representative sample of category buyers/intenders, who were asked a series of closed and open-ended questions. The Cubery Rating is our summary metric of overall effectiveness, representing a prediction of both the short- and long-term potential of an ad. The rating is based on an ad’s ability to deliver on three dimensions:

Captivate: people by engaging them emotionally
Connect: back to the brand in a meaningful way
Compel: a change in thoughts, feelings and behaviours

Results

As a collective, 2018 was the strongest performing group of ads from the last three years, achieving an average Cubery Rating of 56 (2017: 52, 2016: 53). Five ads achieved top 30th percentile status (high effectiveness), 6 ads sat in the middle 40th percentile (moderate effectiveness) and only two ads fell in the bottom 30th percentile (low effectiveness).

#1 RedBalloon: Break with Tradition 30” [69]

Much debate in the advertising industry surrounds whether the ‘message’ or ‘emotion’ is more important. RedBalloon proves that both are possible, and – when done right – can be an extremely potent combination. Put simply, the ad is funny.

“It was humorous and tongue in cheek”.

The casting was perfect, and the reactions of the characters were both believable and relatable. Combined with the powerful message around it being experiences – and not material things – which create the longest-lasting memories, ‘Break with Tradition’ successfully drives both short- and long-term outcomes for RedBalloon.

“I liked the idea of being able to give interesting, thoughtful Christmas presents”.

#2 Woolworths: Home for Christmas 60” [64]

The modern rendition of ‘Run Rudolph Run’ perfectly complimented the narrative depicting all the fun, adventure and chaos which transpires during Christmas. The story was simple and easy-to-follow, featuring highly relatable characters and scenarios. Combined with the light-hearted humour, the ad inspired feelings of warmth and happiness.

“It shows the rush and stress that Christmas morning can bring but ends with the family all coming together happy”.

#3 Bonds: A White Christmas Down Under 30” [62]

The playful, colourful and up-beat tone helped ‘A White Christmas Down Under’ stand out and grab people’s attention – particularly amidst the deluge of more traditional and clichéd depictions of Christmas.

“It was a different and fun slant on Aussie Christmas”.

Underpinning the ad’s efficiency was the brand-led – rather than occasion-led – approach to the narrative. By celebrating Christmas in a very “Bonds-like” way and continuing to leverage the brand’s distinctive style of communications, people were left in no doubt as to who the ad was for.

#4 NRMA: Don’t Drive Naughty 60” [60]

The young girl’s desperate plight to get her father to pay more attention to her and the road, connected with viewers and elicited a warm and fuzzy response. The ad will work most effectively in the long-term, with positive feelings and perceptions of difference helping prime people to choose NRMA.

“Very relatable. People are so busy in their lives that they place family and safety after work”.

#5 Coles: Good things are happening 30” [60]

The fun, festive and family-oriented nature of the ad – amplified by the catchy rendition of ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland’ – generally left people feeling warm and positive. The appetising visuals prompted viewers to think about different meal preparation ideas, and subsequently made them more likely to visit Coles as a result.

“It’s very christmassy and warms your heart… nice tunes too”.

#6 Myer: Naughty or nice bauble 30” [58]

Returning back to its ‘My Store’ roots and launching an innovative ‘naughty or nice bauble’ concept, Myer’s performance rebounded strongly from 2017. With a cute and playful narrative featuring endearing children, the ad elicited feelings of warmth and happiness. Efficiency skyrocketed with the ad tapping into the brand’s latent equity once again.

“It has a nice warm xmas feel. It is similar to previous Myer xmas ads”.

#7 ALDI: Santa Crashes Christmas 90” [56]

‘Santa Crashes Christmas’ is a testament to the power of storytelling, being one of the most emotionally engaging Christmas ads we’ve ever tested.

“I liked the humour and the feel of a real Australian Christmas – the heat, the family & friends gathering and pitching in”.

However, while the ad intertwines a uniquely Australian perspective into a whimsical tale about Christmas, it doesn’t create associations which are intrinsically for ALDI.

Therefore, the synergistic impact of the brand and retail activity to follow later on in the campaign, won’t be maximised.

“It has almost nothing to do with Aldi, could have been for anyone”.

#8 IGA: Where the locals matter 30” [54]

The continued use of Shane Jacobson as the brand’s ambassador helped to strongly connect the ad to IGA. However, with the large grocery retailers increasingly positioning themselves in a community-centric way, the ad doesn’t do enough to differentiate IGA or provide people with a compelling reason to shop there.

“Felt a bit generic Christmas supermarket ad. I think having Shane Jacobsen they could of had it more comical and Australian feeling which would have made it stand out from the ads Coles and Woolworths will likely put out”.

#9 David Jones: Christmas 15” [52]

The classical, forest-set Christmas celebration never reached any real emotional high. As a result, the ad didn’t leave people with a clear and meaningful impression about the brand, nor make them feel considerably better about it.

“Boring ad, wasn’t sure who it was for & seemed pointless”.

#10 St.George: Festive Finances 30” [51]

The ‘Festive Finances’ spot was cute and playful, with almost a third of viewers spontaneously recalling the humour/jokes as something they liked.

“I loved the humour throughout the ad, the skip New Zealand as well as the line “thank Father Christmas” it brings the adults into the joke – loved it! I totally laughed out loud!”

The announcement of the new spend tracking app made ‘Festive Finances’ the most informative Christmas ad on record; however, this came to the detriment of the ad’s overall effectiveness. The message wasn’t seen to be particularly different or relevant, being at odds with the festive and joyous mood people are feeling at this time of the year.

#11 Target: Give a little love 60” [50]

The story showcased an entire community banding together in the spirit of Christmas, eliciting feelings of warmth, happiness and family. However, the fast transitions between different characters made the narrative hard to follow, while the eventual resolve didn’t leave people with a clear sense of what it was trying to say about Target.

“Great looking ad, but I didn’t know it was for Target at all. I had no idea what was going on… I couldn’t follow it. I saw it on TV last week for the first time and was not aware it was a Target ad until YOU pointed it out. After NOW trying very hard to understand what was going on, I still don’t know”.

#12 Big W: Bring the magic 30” [48]

While the cute story reminded people about the excitement and anticipation of Christmas, it wasn’t particularly different to the creative approach taken by many other brands. Combined with it not giving viewers impressions which were uniquely for Big W, the ad’s impact was subsequently weakened.

“If the brand name is removed from the ad than no one can say that the ad was for Big W”.

#13 Sheridan: 30 Days of Christmas 60” [48]

The ad achieved good cut-through but did so for the wrong reasons – people found it annoying and irritating, and not particularly likeable. While an annoying – albeit catchy – jingle can help a brand get noticed and keep it top of mind, it won’t leave people feeling good. And if there’s only one goal that advertising has, then it is to leave people feeling more positive about the brand.

“It was really annoying. It makes me not want to shop there in case they play it while I’m there. I would change the channel if this came on”.

Phil Toppi is the managing director at advertising measurement agency Cubery (formerly Sensecheck). To see more detailed results, you can view the full report here.

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