Alerts on UK Xmas Ads: Bouncing High

David Whitelam, Head of New Client Development at BrainJuicer, reflects on 2016’s UK Christmas adverts – highlighting John Lewis’ “Buster the Boxer” Christmas advert and what makes it a 4-Star performance.

John Lewis wanted to make people smile this year with an ad that embraces a sense of fun and magic. They’ve certainly managed to achieve that with the appropriate help of a trampoline and some animal assistance.

With a hallmark “classic cover” soundtrack, the advert creates plenty of joy and surprise from viewers as they see an assortment of airborne woodland creatures enjoying the new trampoline, as a wistful Buster watches on. The advert then ends on a real (and literal!) high with Buster’s final bout of gleeful bouncing.


Our testing showed that a strong majority of consumers are indeed left feeling happy, driven by a sense that the Magic of Christmas is captured, reminding everyone what it feels like to give the perfect gift. The cuteness of the animals is, unsurprisingly, not too far behind as a reason for happiness. There is dynamism too, not just on the trampoline, but emotionally, as viewers empathise with Buster’s mood.

On our 1-to-5 Star scale, the advert achieves a strong 4 Stars and, with the added bandwagon (more a bandjuggernaut) of publicity, social media buzz will help no end in making John Lewis even more mentally available to shoppers when present buying time arrives.

Well bounced, Buster!

Watch John Lewis’ “Buster the Boxer” on BrainJuicer’s FeelMore50™.

Alerts on UK Xmas Ads: Orange is the colour

David Whitelam, Head of New Client Development at BrainJuicer, reflects on 2016’s UK Christmas adverts – highlighting Aldi’s “Kevin the Carrot” Christmas advert and what makes it a solid 3-Star performance.

Aldi’s offering was the season opener in this year’s Christmas ad parade. Quite surprising, in that it stars a root vegetable, viewers found Kevin the Carrot to be a happy, innocent and cute little chap; his triumph at the end of his exciting adventure leads to good levels of happiness and an effective resolution.

Taking place among a Christmas feast, and with the Jim Broadbent voiceover, Kevin’s scrapes (including literal ones on a grater, echo Indiana Jones but with roast potatoes rather than boulders tumbling down behind him as he pursues his goal of meeting Santa. As in the Waitrose ad, and indeed the M&S ad, the mince pie plays a key role. Will such exposure lead to record mince pie sales in 2016?

captureWhile the advert showcases Aldi food, the products are sufficiently part and parcel of the action to not feel forced under the viewer’s noses. As such, they enhance, rather than disrupt, the storyline so engagement is maintained throughout. This said, the intensity of emotion is not at the same level as we have seen in the leading ads we have tested this year M&S’s “Mrs. Claus” and Waitrose’s “Home For Christmas”.

On our 1-to-5 Star scale, Kevin the Carrot achieves a solid 3-Star rating on BrainJuicer’s  FeelMore50™.

Alerts on UK Xmas Ads: The Lure Of The Mince Pie

David Whitelam, Head of New Client Development at BrainJuicer, reflects on 2016’s UK Christmas adverts – highlighting Waitrose’s “Home for Christmas” ad and what makes it a 4-Star success this Holiday season. 

As noted in our previous post “Applause for Mrs. Claus”, 2015’s Christmas offering of ‘sadvertising’ has been followed by a more optimistic tone in 2016. Lunar loneliness has ceded to bouncing Boxers and Mog, the feline pyromaniac, is nowhere to be seen.

Waitrose’s beautifully-filmed “Home for Christmas” shows a robin making its way through more-than-a-few scrapes on a mission to reunite itself with a Waitrose mince pie.  It’s a simple plot, well-told, and a specially-adapted soundtrack from Jóhann Jóhannsson fits the mood like a snug glove.


Most of the frames could be screengrabbed and made into a Waitrose Christmas Card compilation; there are beautiful forests, lakes and mountains, all with a dusting of gentle, festive snow. But it’s the fact the scenes are interspersed with driving rain, territorial polecats, swooping kestrels and squally storms that not only emphasise the risks poor robin is taking, but keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat.

Our testing found that engagement levels are very strong, and the ad hits 4 Stars on our 1-to-5 Star scale.  The emotional journey is also highly dynamic, with both sadness and fear playing key roles within the story. The film-making masterstroke is that these emotions are completely resolved at the end of the ad. As such, we see the highest levels of happiness in the last 5 seconds, when the Waitrose branding is revealed, the mince pie is tasted, the family sit down to feast and, lo! another robin makes an unexpected appearance.

Verbatim comments reveal viewers’ fondness for robins (it won a vote for Britain’s national bird last year, don’t you know?) and that they find the ad “captivating”. However, the theme of “coming together” also comes through clearly. This ties in well with the intended strategy, described, more eloquently, by Waitrose as “the spirit of connection”. And there’ll be no lack of opportunity to get more connected either, as accompanying robin books, kitchenware and clothing are all leading in-store activation.

Congratulations to Waitrose and Adam&EveDDB for another captivating and emotionally-engaging Christmas ad.

Watch Waitrose’s “Home for Christmas” on BrainJuicer’s FeelMore50™.

Alerts on UK Xmas Ads: Applause for Mrs. Claus

David Whitelam, Head of New Client Development at BrainJuicer, reflects on 2016’s UK Christmas adverts – specifically M&S’s “Mrs. Claus”, highlighting what makes it a 4-Star success this Holiday season. 

Once again, the might of British retail is undergoing a festive fisticuffs to ensure their Christmas ads come up trumps.

After many commentators bemoaned the melancholic tone of 2015’s adverts and sensed that the emotional heartstrings were being over-plucked, 2016 has already shown it’s still an emotional playing field, albeit with a very different tone. As emotional engagement correlates best with long-term business success, this is not too much of a surprise to see, nor is the excellent story-telling that we’ve witnessed in some of the more lengthy and big-budget ads released so far.


Since launching on Friday, M&S’s “Mrs. Claus” (played by Janet McTeer), with its Oscar-winning Director (Tom Hooper) and its specially-created musical score, has certainly caused a stir.  We’ve already tested it among a representative sample of Great British shoppers and its touching and heart-warming story, together with the stylish, modern and caring protagonist, leads to a very strong reception: a 4 Star ad on our 1-to-5 Star scale.

Nathan Ansell, Global Director of Loyalty, Customer Insight and Analytics at M&S said: “Our Christmas with Love campaign is a brand new approach, created with our customers and for our customers. The insight behind the ad was the feeling that M&S customers wanted at Christmas: warmth, empathy and a touch of humour and the ad has delivered on this strongly. BrainJuicer has helped to embed the importance of emotional story-telling in our business and has been able to quickly demonstrate the appeal of Mrs. Claus”.

Consumer feedback showed high levels of happiness in the form of ‘Contentment’, ‘Being Pleased for Others’, and ‘Appreciative’ and spontaneous associations with ‘Christmas’, ‘Heart-warming’ and ‘Family’. In a modern twist on a traditional tale, the sibling affection within a storyline that introduces sadness, and successfully resolves it, keeps the viewer highly engaged.

While Mrs. Claus raises an occasional anxious eyebrow, it’s among a few who feel that tradition is being challenged a little too much. Overall though, if Mrs. Claus has a weakness, it’s for the mince pie she deservedly tucks in to.

Watch M&S’s “Mrs. Claus” on BrainJuicer’s FeelMore50™ Ad of the Moment.

Effectiveness Month: Binet And Field Return With ‘Media In The Digital Age’

At the IPA Effectiveness Week Genesis Conference, Les Binet and Peter Field unveiled the first findings from their third volume unpacking the IPA datamine for ad effectiveness nuggets.


Binet and Field may seem like unlikely Charlton Hestons, but it’s no secret how vital their first two books of commandments have been for the way modern marketers understand advertising. The first, Marketing In The Age Of Accountability, laid the groundwork for an approach that puts Fame and emotion in their rightful, central place in ad effectiveness. The second, The Long And The Short Of It, explained how effectiveness was best-served by a long-term focus.

Both these volumes were landmarks in using evidence-based marketing science to drive profitable brand growth. The new one looks set to be just as important. Here’s our summary of the session, from BrainJuicer Labs MD Orlando Wood Continue reading

Innovation Month: Playing The Waiting Game

This Innovation Month post is a special report from The Market Research Event, where BrainJuicer is presenting and where this blog’s editor, Tom Ewing, is acting as an event blogger. This post is a write-up of an innovation case study Tom saw. Even though we didn’t do this research ourselves, we feel it has important lessons for approaching innovation and making it Fluent!

On Day 2 of TMRE, in the Innovation Track, a case study presentation by Sargento Foods inadvertently illuminated one of the big issues in innovation: the gulf between how we talk about it, and how it actually happens.

The track chairs kicked the session off with the former, a chart showing the ever accelerating pace of technological innovation. It was the kind of chart that shows the electric lightbulb and the steam engine as less dramatic advances than the iPad – but it made its point. This is how people in our industry talk innovation – as an ever-accelerating hamster wheel of change on which brands must spin or fall off.


But is that really how innovation works? Michelle Monkoski and Barbara Kilcoyne of Sargento implied a rather different view – where patience and timing, not frantic acceleration, are the keys to innovating against consumer trends. Continue reading

Innovation Month: Fighting Back Against Idea Fatigue

We’ve all heard the figures about the staggering numbers of new products launched every year. But what people don’t often say is that these innovations are rather unevenly distributed. Some categories see only a few major launches. Others see a huge turnover of new ideas. And behind every one that makes it to market there are a throng of concepts that didn’t get that far.


Trying to innovate in these everyday but high-turnover categories – think alcoholic drinks, waters, snack foods, or haircare for instance – can be frustrating, and it must seem like idea fatigue has set in and only truly special concepts can break through. The rest get dismissed – “Too boring!” “Too weird!” “Too off-putting!”

Is there hope? Yes. There are a few things you can do to improve your innovation process and optimise concepts to prevent the ones with commercial potential from getting lost. Here are our top four tips.

Continue reading