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.

Christmas 2015: When The Stars Go Out

In the last few years, Christmas has been the peak of the UK advertising season – the time when the nation’s biggest brands try their hardest to put us all in festive mood. Whether it be blockbusters like John Lewis’ Monty The Penguin in 2014, or lesser-known gems like Lego’s lovely father-and-son bonding ad in 2013, the one thing you can guarantee from Christmas is a five-star ad or two under the tree.

Until now.

Yes, the headline news about the standout Christmas ad of 2015 is – there wasn’t really one. We tested several dozen ads and only three of them were emotional enough to even hit our four-star rating for efficiency, let alone reach five.

That doesn’t make the other Christmas ads bad, of course. A lot of them got three stars – a good score, signifying a firmly above average ad. So before we talk about what went wrong, let’s celebrate the five best Christmas ads of 2015. Continue reading

2014 Christmas Ads: The Emotional Winners Revealed

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for emotional British ads. Or that’s become the traditional view of Christmas – a time when the UK’s advertisers (especially for big retail brands) put on their party frocks, let down their hair and go all out to make us feel something festive.

Which makes Christmas time a particularly interesting one for us at BrainJuicer, where we love nothing more than getting a big batch of ads we can test. Which of this year’s British Christmas crop make people feel the most? We tested a lot more than the ones showing in this post – and we’ll be rolling up the full results of our tests into the FeelMore Global list of the 50 most emotional ads of 2014, so watch for that in the new year. But for now here’s a count-up – from a straight-to-video 1-star ad to a blockbuster 5-star success – of some of this year’s efforts.

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Continue reading

A Research Christmas Carol: Chapter Four

The end of our special Christmas research story. In Part One, data-obsessed Insight manager Ebenezer Brand had a ghostly visit warning him to change his ways. In Part Two, he learned to look at real not claimed behaviour. In Part Three he was brought up to speed with new technology, and is confident he can change. But there is one ghostly visit to come…

Ebenezer Brand’s happy and determined mood was not to last. He first began to notice a steady drop in temperature in his room, then a certain clamminess to the atmosphere, and the emotional disturbance this caused was certainly not helped when a grey-robed, cowled figure emerged from the plain wall of his room, and extended a frankly skeletal finger at the terrified researcher.


“A-are you the G-ghost of Research F-Future?” asked Brand.

The spectre’s cowl dipped briefly in acknowledgement.

“Bit of a rough year for the industry, then?” said Brand. But the Ghost was not one for small talk. Continue reading