Apes, Bears Or Pianos? Adland Can't Even Agree On Christmas

It almost seems like a moot point to wonder which television ad has won Christmas this year when a campaign that cannot be shown on tv has been undoubtedly the surprise winner.

Everyone is talking about Iceland's "Rang-Tan," and it has been viewed millions of times on social media -- and all without the supermarket having to buy a penny of airtime.

Or has it? Read on to find out how, actually, it might be considered to be bottom of the pile and a testament to how nobody in adland can agree with anything.

In fact, if one looks at the ads that are running, and the research around them, that is the one thing we can all agree on. Nothing. 

I was talking with the guys at Realeyes shortly after the John Lewis ad featuring Sir Elton John was launched, and they confirmed pretty much what I had at first suspected.

The story goes down well, but there's a lot more love for the young lad playing a primary school-aged Sir Elton than the grown-up version who begins and ends the ad. It may come as little surprise that the recent 10-second cuts of the ad feature the child with only a fleeting final second devoted to Sir Elton.

The Realeyes guys use eye-tracking tech and marketing questionnaires to see what's going down well with viewers, and this year's John Lewis ad was deemed the fifth-most engaging of the retailer's Christmas ads.

The reason? While the story was enjoyed, around one in five viewers -- particularly men -- were critical of the store using a celebrity. The ad was far better received by women than men, and those childhood scenes and a great tune are what people liked about the ad the most. The researchers' takeaway? Hiring a celeb doesn't guarantee success.

And here's the real rub -- not only is Sir Elton's ad only John Lewis' fifth-most engaging Christmas ad, it doesn't actually make it into this year's top 10, compiled by Realeyes.

The number one spot actually goes to Heathrow Airport for its story about a couple of bears going on their travels to reunite with family. Debenhams comes in second with its series of ads around the theme of "Do A Bit Of Christmas," and in the third spot we have Visa's ad where local shopkeepers sing Mariah Carey's classic "All I Want For Christmas" tune. 

John Lewis only makes it to 12th -- a spot ahead of Amazon's singing boxes at 13th and two spots above M&S in 14th. Pretty surprising stuff, which is made even more noteworthy by their final finding.

The "Rang-Tan" ad ends up in the joint last spot of equal 19th place, or joint 20th, depending on how you look at it.

The reason? The sad message left a lot of people with criticisms over food production that would have worked well for a charity, but not so much for a supermarket aiming to sell produce. A stark message, the researchers say, just didn't leave people feeling "Christmasy."

And then we have the 4C Insights annual survey into which tv ads get the most positive sentiments on social. Yes, you guessed it -- straight in to the number one spot is John Lewis, which was in the tenth spot last Christmas. Tesco and Aldi are in the second and third spot.

So, if you listen to the guys who look at positive social comments after a television ad has run, John Lewis is top of the pile. If you listen to the guys who use technology to track viewers' emotions, then John Lewis crashes out of the top ten, and the big winner is a pair of bears jetting off from Heathrow.

If you talk to the person in the street or the media pundit, Iceland has won it with a shocking ad watched millions of times for free. Although if you ask Realeyes, it's bottom of the pile of twenty.

Take your choice.

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