By Prudence | | in Marketing

There’s no doubt Christmas is an exciting time of year, and in Ad Land it’s no different. Christmas campaigns create a buzz around the season, and an increased focus on viewer engagement and building emotional appeal has meant that many of us actually looking forward to viewing the advertising!

So with our end-of-year holidays rolling around again we thought we’d look at the best TV ads from last year in anticipation of this year’s onslaught. The ‘Top 10’ winners were obtained from a survey done by Sensecheck and published by media news company, Mumbrella. But so as not to play favourites, we’ve listed them in alphabetical order - so you be the judge!

1. Aldi – “The More the Merrier

Aldi’s 2017 branded TV Christmas marketing featured Doug, a stubborn batsman whose epic game of backyard cricket draws people from all over the neighbourhood in droves. Eventually, after 40 years of ‘manning’ the crease, the temptation of a Christmas feast is too much for Doug and he ditches his wicket to share in the Christmas festivities.

In terms of marketing, although it did a good job of creatively communicating the joy of a great Aussie Christmas, unfortunately many viewers didn’t connect it back to the Aldi brand in a meaningful way. The play on gender stereotypes also didn’t go down too well with female viewers, which makes sense given that they are the chief grocery buyers in most families!

2. Arnott’s – “Santa’s Big Night

According to Sensecheck, Arnott’s first-ever Christmas campaign took out the top spot last year in terms of the best Christmas TV ads. The ad reflects on the tradition of leaving a biscuit out for Santa, and it took viewers on an emotional storytelling journey depicting the trials and tribulations Santa faces each year on Christmas Eve.

In terms of viewer feedback, many found the ad highly amusing, got the warm and fuzzies while watching it, and the connection back to Arnott’s and their ‘Santa’s Biscuits’ was seen as particularly strong.

3. Bonds – “Light It Up This Christmas”

Bonds took a more youthful and modern approach to its Christmas holiday marketing in 2017, which featured a number of dancers decked out in Bonds underwear telling us to let our light shine. Exploding with sound and colour, the ad aimed to bring their new Christmas range to life, which is a similar strategy they employed with their 2015 campaign. But did it hit the mark?

Well … no. While its high energy resulted in above-average likeability, it didn’t get viewers into the festive spirit with its distinct lack of inclusivity, ie. not featuring plus-sized talent.

4. Coles – “What We Love About Christmas

The main 30-second TV ad for Coles’ Christmas campaign in 2017 showed Australian mums, dads, grandmas, grandpas and a bunch of cute kids sharing their favourite things about Christmas (including a doughnut stuffed turkey!) In it, celebrity chef Curtis Stones also makes his usual (albeit brief) cameo and most viewers commented that it got them into the Christmas mood, although not in a highly emotional way.

The ad did however stick to the retailer’s tried and tested creative formula, which meant a large number of viewers felt there was a clear theme and a strong connection to the brand communicated.

5. David Jones – “Now It Feels Like Christmas

The nostalgic tale of a Gingerbread Man shopping for loved ones and making his way home to Australia was the focus of the David Jones holiday advertising in 2017. Crafted well, the TV ad harnessed the power of animation and viewers did in fact connect emotionally with the heart warming story.

However, less than half of viewers connected it back to the brand - many only assumed that the gifts bought were from David Jones, because it was only implied and not actually said!

6. LEGO – “Build It Together

In terms of its Christmas marketing in 2017, LEGO told a charming story about Santa and his elves prepping for Christmas before Santa’s flung under the couch thanks to a human sock-cloaked foot! He is eventually rescued by an unexpected LEGO friend and combined with a little of his own ingenuity, makes his way back to the village to save Christmas.

The ad marked some diversity for the brand with the inclusion of an Asian LEGO character, and it was the most unique and distinctive ad out of the ten according to viewers. This is mainly because every aspect of the ad featured LEGO pieces, leaving the brand front of mind at all times.

7. Myer – “Elf’s Journey

Last year Myer’s Christmas campaign TV ad once again featured Mouse, Angel, Elf and Reindeer, which followed up their appearance in a highly ranked 2016 ad. However, unfortunately viewers felt the 2017 version took on a distinctly Grinch-like tone. Viewers didn’t like that the whole ad pokes fun at some of kids’ most loved Christmas activities, including OTT lighting displays and kid-fashioned decorations. And what’s with the overly-cranky Elf abandoning his mates out of frustration and deciding to spend his holidays with another set of decorations!

While tapping into unique emotions is a strategy that can help brands stand out from the crowd, viewers ultimately need to be left on an emotional high. In fact, one viewer commented that the ad seemed to “be very against how anyone else might celebrate Christmas”. Ouch.

8. Officeworks – “There’s More In Every Gift

The Christmas marketing done by Officeworks in 2016 included a warm and nostalgic TV ad about a grandad and his granddaughter. Viewers loved it. Fast forward to 2017 and the brand decided to change tack – with a result that was … well, a bit heavy.

A modern extended Aussie family unwraps gifts like an art set to ‘open the mind’ and a camera ‘for a new point of view’. However, unfortunately their attempt to connect with viewers on a deeper level and position Officeworks as a destination for more ‘thoughtful’ gifts left most viewers confused, disconnected and lacking emotional engagement.

9. Target – “Who Makes Christmas Special

Target provided a light-hearted look at the fun and mischief that families get up to during the holidays with their 2017 Christmas campaign. It featured a multicultural cast who wrapped presents, cooked a Christmas feast, decorated their homes and picked out Christmas costumes. The TV ad paired the visuals with a energetic version of Bob Dylan’s “Must Be Santa” jingle which showed just how powerful music can be in terms of creating emotional engagement.

But there was a definite down side. Because Target is one of the first major retailers to release their TVC every year, many viewers saw it time and time again and the novelty started to wear off. Which led to it being called ‘irritating’ and ‘annoying’.

10. Woolworths – “Share The Spirit Of Christmas

The holiday advertising campaign for Woolworths in 2017 saw their Christmas TVC featuring a number of multicultural families enjoying the holiday season. Diverse inclusive celebrations seem to be a bit of a trend in advertising circles these days and it seems to have worked for Woolies.

Viewers deemed the brand as ‘relatable’ and ‘highly genuine’ and the ad was seen as feel-good with a high level of likability. Importantly, the brand continued to maintain a consistent style throughout all their communications, which resulted in rapid brand recognition.

Does your brand identity need a bit of a refresh? Drop us a line or send our Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne team a message!