But by and large, American holiday TV spots are dull, for which we can probably blame the Super Bowl (though only a handful of advertisers go there) and the fact that, forever, December has been the joyous month when relatively few people watch TV. Which is why high minded stuff like the Kennedy Center Honors airs in December and networks show repeats. Nielsen used to officially turn off for the last week in December--it was called a “black week.” It’s when documentaries aired.
In recent years, a real spirited Christmas competition over commercials-- um, that’s advert over there--has developed, led by the retailer John Lewis.
Unruly, the ad tech company that measures, predicts and explains how ads go viral and get shared all around, last week named the new John Lewis Christmas commercial #BusterTheBoxer the Most Shared Ad of 2016. It’s been seen over 21 million times on YouTube, and shared 1.9 million times by adoring fans.
Which is pretty good, considering the ad only debuted on Nov. 7, less than a month ago.
At about this time of the year over here, that Windsong may be on my mind, but if I lived over there, my thoughts would be on Buster, the dog bouncing joyously on a backyard trampoline meant to be the Christmas gift for the little girl in the house.
It’s a very sweet and very funny ad and, according to everybody, a lot better than last year’s John Lewis spot, “Man on the Moon” which many people thought was kind of a downer, even for John Lewis, which has a reputation for ads that are joyful but thoughtful tiptoe into socially relevant. Last year’s reminded people there are a million people in London who spend Christmas alone; that guy on the moon was like them, almost. It was happy in a very sad way. It ended with a smile and a tear. The same thing was happening to viewers.
Also, #Buster has become the ad #StopFundingHate has rallied around to urge advertisers stay away from scheduling campaigns in some British tabloids that have pushed anti-immigrant attitudes. John Lewis didn't join the effort but got attached to it anyway. It's complicated.
Unruly data that analyzes emotional responses concludes that this year’s batch of UK Christmas ads are still twice as sad as the average British ad during the year. That makes me sad.
Though Unruly started in London, it operates worldwide, and so its count of shared ads is from all over too, but a lot are British. The U.S., Denmark, Egypt, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Norway, the Philippines and Indonesia are all represented. .
Here’s the top 20 as shared on social media:
1. John Lewis - #BusterTheBoxer - 1,949,387 shares
2. Channel 4 - We Are The Superhumans - 1,851,533 shares
3. Shell - Best Day Of My Life | #makethefuture - 1,683,072 shares
4. Vodafone - Ramadan 2016 - 1,435,350 shares
5. OK Go & S7 Airlines - Upside Down and Inside Out - 1,240,842 shares
6. Nike - The Switch - 969,650 shares
7. Doritos - Ultrasound - 893,465 shares
8. Ariel - #sharetheload - 877,558 shares
9. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk - Aliens - 852,895 shares
10. 7 Eleven Thailand - Teachers - 792,328 shares
11. McDonald’s Philippines - Tuloy Pa Rin - 699,396 shares
12. Nike Basketball - The Conductor - 641,359 shares
13. Volkswagen - Trailer Assist - 640,995 shares
14. Samsung - Introducing Samsung Galaxy S7 - 616,128 shares
15. OK Go & Morton Salt - The One Moment - 608,419 shares
16. Knorr - Spirit of Ramadan - 590,386 shares
17. Momondo - The DNA Journey - 585,903 shares
18. Facebook - Aquila Test Flight - 564,123 shares
19. Mentos Indonesia - Mentos Mentors - 548,334 shares
20. Nintendo - First Look at Nintendo Switch - 544,585 shares