Ads With EQ: Wegman's, Frito-Lay, Chick-fil-A Win Holiday Engagement


When it comes to delivering holiday cheer, a new study finds that seasonal spots from Wegman’s, Frito-Lay and Chick-fil-A are winning hearts. Their secret? Plenty of nostalgia, and nary a mention of COVID-19.

The new ranking is from Unruly, a connected advertising platform, looking to find new ways to measure emotional responses to video advertising.

The analysis finds that while last year’s ads often integrated the uncertainties of a COVID Christmas into their creative, this year’s crop is remarkably COVID-free. “Instead, they seek to create nostalgia for Christmases past and excite consumers about gathering and celebrating with their nearest and dearest,” the company says in its analysis.

Wegman’s, the regional grocery chain, scored highest with its sweet story of a young boy helping an elderly neighbor.



Nostalgia is a big winner, especially for Frito-Lay, which scores second-highest, as star Jimmy Fallon mugs his way through sets of electric trains, popcorn balls, tangled tree lights and ugly sweaters in “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

Animation is also a key ingredient in the highest-scoring ads. Chick-fil-A’s delightful “Whoopsery” ad, which shows the magic that can come from big mistakes, ranked No. 3.

Macy’s animated “Tiptoe and the Flying Machine” follows close behind at No. 4.

Other trends include diverse casting and beloved pop music. Those, combined with plenty of gingerbread houses and warmly lit menorahs, explain why Target’s “The Holidays are meant to be shared” spot found itself at No. 5.

Oreo, Kroger, Gap, Lowe’s and Walmart round out the top 10.

To get to an ad’s EQ, Unruly analyzes emotional responses of from about 9,700 consumers around the world, using more than 50 global holiday ads. It then ranks them on their emotional intensity, brand favorability and happiness, to calculate the EQ ranking.

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