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.

5 Questions To Make Your Digital Content Better

On September 26, 2006, the modern era of marketing began. Facebook – already enjoying viral growth among academic institutions – opened its accounts up to the public for the first time.


Facebook in 2006 – opening the door to modern marketing…

A month later, in October, Google bought YouTube, making a powerful statement that the future belonged to video.

These two elements – social media, and online video – remain the fundamental building blocks of online content: the levers of all the change we’ve seen over the ten years since, across every device.

While many commentators talk about that change as the only constant worth considering, we take a different view. At the same time as staggering technological change has transformed marketing, there’s been a new and deeper understanding of the fundamentals of human decision-making – which have not changed for tens of thousands of years.

To communicate with people today, you have to understand both radical change and extreme continuity. You have to use the basic “System 1” shortcuts of human decision-making to get the most out of the myriad of new platforms, tools and features you’re confronted with on a weekly basis.

Later this month, we’ll be launching a new version of our award-winning ad testing methodology, specifically designed to test digital content. A free webinar will lay out its new capabilities and the philosophy behind it.

As a taster, here are the five questions we feel you should be asking about every piece of content you create – online and offline. Continue reading

Say Hello To System1

As you might have read on advertising news sites, the BrainJuicer Group is launching its own creative agency. System1 – Feel More: Buy More is the first creative agency to guarantee ROI to its clients.

Why are we doing this? How are we doing it? What makes us think we even can? Read on!


The best advertising is brilliantly emotional, creative advertising that makes people feel more. Because if they feel more, they buy more.

That’s the mantra BrainJuicer has lived by since we started testing emotional advertising close to a decade ago. We’ve tested thousands of ads since then – digital, TV, print and poster – and we know that it works. Putting emotion at the centre of copy testing is the tried-and-true way to deliver ROI.

It’s become a bit of a mission, to be honest. We don’t just test ads for our clients, looking for ways to make them more emotional, we spend our own money every year testing hundreds of other ads from round the world, looking for entries in our FeelMore50 list. Why?

Because emotional ads work best, and we think there should be more of them.

And you know what people say about wanting something done. Sometimes, you have to do it yourself!

Hence System1 – Feel More: Buy More. A creative agency dedicated to crafting emotional advertising for its clients. System1 will be a sister company and client of BrainJuicer, putting all its prospective ads up for testing before they get presented to  clients, and continuing to rework the ideas until they hit a minimum level of quality. Every ad System1 makes is an ad it knows will work effectively and efficiency. In other words, guaranteed ROI.

That’s what System1 is. Just as important is what it isn’t. System1 is not a bunch of BrainJuicer researchers thinking they can make great ads. We believe that testing helps ads, but we don’t believe the testers know how to make them. So System1 is a separate organisation, headed by the fantastic Rod Connors, former Unilever and Nike Marketing Director and founder of The BSG agency. It’s supported by an advisory board of top industry figures including Kellogg’s VP Marketing Peter Soer, HHM creative partner Adrian Holmes and head of Herd consultancy Mark Earls. And it will draw on a poll of the freshest and best freelancer talent in the UK and worldwide.

Everyone at BrainJuicer is enormously excited to see System1 launch. And, of course, to check out the highly emotional work it will be producing. Good luck Rod and the team!

Most Innovative Agency 2016

We are proud and delighted to be named Most Innovative Agency again in the GRIT Report  2016 (Check out the results teaser over at Greenbook). This is the fifth consecutive time we’ve won it, but it never stops being an honour to be recognised for innovation, both by our clients and agency peers. Over the years we’ve been pleased to see other agencies do well too – this year, it’s great to see InSites, an agency whose innovations in online communities we have massive respect for, break the Top 3. It’s a time of huge change for market research – look at our partners ZappiStore, jumping up the rankings from 25th in 2015 to 11th in 2015. They’re helping the whole industry get leaner and faster, and that is definitely where some of the future lies.


Coming first in this survey doesn’t make us complacent – quite the reverse. We feel the pressure to keep on trying out new approaches and ideas. Last year, for instance, was all about applying behavioural science to branding. We launched our Fame, Feeling and Fluency model of brand growth which lies at the heart of our tracking and audit products, and was nominated for an MRS Innovation Award. We also unveiled the unique brand strategy product Storyteller, and were delighted when a paper combining the 3Fs and Storyteller won the prestigious Ulrike Schöneberg Award at Germany’s major research conference. This year, we’re focusing on  digital– moving a DIY version of our Ad Testing tool to ZappiStore, and working on new digital testing tools you’ll be hearing about very soon. Continue reading