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Published November 19th 2018

The Brandwatch Christmas Ad Rankings 2018

We're making a list. We're checking it twice. We're going to find out which ad is most nice. Brandwatch React is coming to town.

Christmas ads are already out and, naturally, we needed to rank them.

Big brands battle it out every year to grab attention from an increasingly saturated field. 2018 has already seen some new contenders enter the fray. But how have the newcomers fared against seasoned warriors like John Lewis?

This year we opted for a totally new system of ranking – not just mentions and sentiment. Essentially we’re looking at shares, mentions, sentiment and adding our own “expert opinion” scores.

So, here’s the list as it currently stands. We’re giving each advert a two day period to gather hype before we add it to the rankings.

14th: Curry’s PC World – The Magic of Christmas Upgraded

Poor old Curry’s PC World has landed joint last in the rankings so far, mainly because sentiment towards their ad was so bad.

The main problems centred around the perceived earliness of their ad and their inclusion of a real-life football team being beaten by their fierce rival (Wimbledon 4 – MK Dons 0), which drew a lot of criticism from fans.

Mentions: 13th place.
Social shares: 14th place.
Positive sentiment: 9%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 7.5/10.

13th: Argos – The Christmas Fool

Argos are currently near the bottom of the bunch despite the effort that’s gone into their ad this year.

The Christmas Fool, a festive villain who specialises in hiding the sellotape and messing with lighting displays, is a fresh take on the often two dimensional, amiable protagonists of Christmas ads gone by.

That said, people did not respond particularly well to his antics, with a low sentiment rating as well as not many mentions.

Mentions: 16th place.
Social shares: 11th place.
Positive sentiment: 26%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 6/10.

12th: Littlewoods – Own the Show

Featuring a popular song from Panic at the Disco, Littlewoods gained favor from fans but failed to gain many shares or mentions.

Mentions: 22th place.
Social shares: 23rd place.
Positive sentiment: 66%
Brandwatch Team rating: 2.5/10

Joint 11th: KFC – Turkey comes and goes

One of the more bizarre on the list, KFC pits poultry against poultry in scenes hugely reminiscent to the opening of Red Dead Redemption 2. For the most part simply a chicken trekking through snow, there’s not a hint of Christmas to it except the weather.

With a damning score of 1 from the Brandwatch team, we were pretty shocked to see a lot of people absolutely love the advert and have been gushing about it on Twitter. Having said that, there were a few tweets that saw two birds fight over who gets to be eaten as ‘sadistic’ and covering over what really happens to birds before they reach our plate.

Mentions: 18th place.
Social shares: 12th place.
Positive sentiment: 81%
Brandwatch Team rating: 1/10

Joint 11th: Asda – Bring Christmas Home

Asda’s ad is an explosion of Christmas related merriment, and their #BringChristmasHome hashtag is a nice nod to the #ItsComingHome madness this year will be remembered for. Sparking a lot of conversation and plenty of shares, it seems like people have taken to the advert.

Mentions: 10th place.
Social shares: 10th place.
Positive sentiment: 67%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 3.5/10.

10th: Lidl – Make Christmas a Lidl special

Lidl came in with three festive adverts already, including our favorite in which a man hires some snow but it doesn’t go to plan. They scored particularly well for sentiment, despite a strong focus on pricing within their ads (something you might expect to put people off).

Mentions: 20th place.
Social shares: 15th place.
Positive sentiment: 75%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 3.5/10.

Joint 9th: Lego – This is not a Brick

This is Lego’s first ever Christmas ad and, while slick and high quality, it’s failed to resonate. While the people who saw it had good things to say, with so few mentions and shares, it sits low down the list.

With a broad global market to target and imaginary settings over real ones, it doesn’t seem to have chimed with people enough to get them talking and sharing. Not to mention it’s lacking many things Christmassy.

Good luck next year, Lego!

Mentions: 23rd place.
Social shares: 21st place.
Positive sentiment: 81%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 2.5/10.

Joint 9th: Debenhams – Do a Bit of Debenhams

Debenhams’ ad this year focuses on gift giving and odd facial expressions. Their performance was fairly average all round, with a fairly low mention score.

Mentions: 19th place.
Social shares: 18th place.
Positive sentiment: 78%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 4/10.

Joint 8th: Tk Maxx – The Neverending Stocking

Christmas ads often take a surreal tack these days, and Tk Maxx’s effort is no different. Showcasing the year in the life of a family home infested with a giant stocking, it ties into a real-life promotion where shoppers win big if they find their own monstrous piece of festive footwear.

It didn’t get many people talking online, but it got a fair few shares. The response has been pretty positive as well. With many retailers leaning towards 20 – 30 second ads, it’s good to see some still going for the longer, storyline based one. And what’s Christmas without a good story?

Mentions: 21th place.
Social shares: 20th place.
Positive sentiment: 82%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 5.5/10.

Joint 8th: Amazon – Can You Feel It

Amazon have gotten involved again, bringing back their singing boxes of 2017. Facing the same problem as Lego with creating something for a global audience, it looks familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, like some kind of uncanny Christmas valley effect.

Nevertheless, it’s done far better than Lego’s attempt across the board, picking up a healthy amount of shares and getting a decent reaction online (even if your own team weren’t big fans).

Mentions: 17th place.
Social shares: 19th place.
Positive sentiment: 88%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 4.5/10.

Joint 8th: Waitrose – Concert + Misletoe

Waitrose may have gone in with not one but two adverts this year, but that hasn’t translated into a high placement in our rankings.

The Brandwatch team were torn over the quality of the ads themselves.

Mentions: 14th place.
Social shares: 10th place.
Positive sentiment: 95%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 4/10.

Joint 8th: JD Sports – I Am JD

Whoever said Christmas can’t just be standing in an ice cave? Certainly not JD who have roped in the likes of Jaden Smith, Anthony Joshua, and Ella Eyre to do just that.

The reliance on big names has paid off though. An overwhelmingly positive response on social with a good amount of chatter has helped them up the rankings. Could have done with a bit of tinsel though.

Mentions: 9th place.
Social shares: 22nd place.
Positive sentiment: 93%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 3.25/10.

7th: Tesco – However you do Christmas

No one can really agree on what makes Christmas ‘Christmas’. We all have our own ways of cooking, lazing, and drinking. So Tesco have tapped into that with a montage of arguments about what creates the perfect festive day.

With a decent amount of shares and mentions, it also got a really positive response from people online and our team, putting it high on our rankings.

Mentions: 11th place.
Social shares:  16th place.
Positive sentiment: 83%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 7/10.

6th: Boots – #GiftsThatGetThem

Boots landed a solid place in our rankings with this tear-jerker. It’s got great rankings from the Brandwatch team and did very well on social shares.

Mentions: 12th place.
Social shares: 8th place.
Positive sentiment: 77%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 8/10.

Joint 5th: International Committee of the Red Cross – The one gift Santa can’t deliver

We’re used to Christmas ads being emotional, with plenty tugging at the heart strings. But not in the way the Red Cross’ one does. Focusing on the darker side of the world, they’ve tried to get people to think beyond just the Christmas in their own homes this year.

It’s done pretty well too. The response on Twitter was overwhelmingly popular while it’s done well for sparking conversation on the platform too.

Mentions: 8th place.
Social shares: 13th place.
Positive sentiment: 98%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 4.5/10.

Joint 5th: Cadbury – Secret Santa

Cadbury focused on secret santa this year and, while the masks are a little bit creepy, they’ve scored highly for sentiment and done pretty well for mentions.

Mentions: 14th place.
Social shares: 17th place.
Positive sentiment: 96%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 5/10.

Joint 4th: McDonald’s – #ReindeerReady

The fast food giant’s contribution this year balances a bit of storyline with outright promotion. Hungry reindeers, Santa going down the chimney. It ticks plenty of boxes.

It’s clearly done pretty well too. It got very widely shared, and generated a fair bit of conversation on Twitter. It also got a big boost from the mostly positive reaction on social.

Mentions: 6th place.
Social shares: 3rd place.
Positive sentiment: 95%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 3/10.

Joint 4th: Marks and Spencer – #MyMarksFave

Marks and Spencer have come in with a customer-focused video about favorite Christmas foods, playing into the brand being a favorite for Christmas treats.

Plenty of people are engaging with the ad, sharing their own favorites. Well played M&S.

Mentions: 4th place.
Social shares: 7th place.
Positive sentiment: 96%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 4/10.

Joint 4th: Heathrow – Heathrow Bears

We wouldn’t have guessed an airline would do so well in our list, but here we are. Heathrow bought back the much-loved Heathrow Bears and shot up the list quick, doing particularly well on social shares.

Mentions: 7th place.
Social shares: 5th place.
Positive sentiment: 95%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 6/10.

Joint 3rd: Sainsbury’s – The Big Night

Sainsbury’s have done very well this year with a very cute school Christmas show with an enormous budget and a kid dressed as an electric plug that somehow jumps into a socket. It’s well worth a watch, and it’s scored highly all round.

Mentions: 5th place.
Social shares: 6th place.
Positive sentiment: 84%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 8.5/10.

Joint 3rd: Aldi – #SaveKevin

Kevin the Carrot returned again and there’s going to be plenty more of him, seeing as his first ad left him on a literal cliff hanger. Mimicking Coca-Cola’s classic adverts, Aldi have employed a pretty decent bait and switch.

It’s got people talking and sharing, so it seems to have worked, although it did irk some who were expecting to hear “holidays are coming, holidays are coming” when they saw the truck.

Mentions: 3rd place.
Social shares: 4th place.
Positive sentiment: 69%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 7.25/10.

2nd: Iceland – The banned advert

This is a hugely interesting placement on our list. Iceland blew the other ads out of the water in terms of shares and mentions, despite the fact it won’t appear on TV.

The advert is reportedly banned for being “too political”, although that has come under a lot of scrutiny on social media. While lots of Christmas ads have been cause-related before, this not-very-Christmassy take on traditional Christmas time promotions is causing huge controversy.

Mentions: 2nd place.
Social shares: 1st place.
Positive sentiment: 62%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 3.5/10.

1. John Lewis – #EltonJohnLewis

The long-awaited John Lewis advert arrived later than expected but didn’t fail to generate an enormous reaction. It came first for mentions, although it failed to generate as many shares as Iceland’s ‘banned’ ad. Regardless it is, predictably, our number one this year.

Mentions: 1st place.
Social shares: 2nd place.
Positive sentiment: 94%.
Brandwatch Team rating: 8.5/10.

Christmas Ad Performances 2018

Brand Rank for no. of Twitter mentions Rank for no. of shares across social (BuzzSumo data) Positive sentiment % Average Brandwatch staff rating Aggregate score
John Lewis 1 2 94% 6 33 (1st)
Iceland 2 1 62% 3.5 24 (2nd)
Aldi 3 4 69% 7.25 22 (Joint 3rd)
Sainsbury's 5 6 84% 8.5 22 (Joint 3rd)
Heathrow 7 5 95% 5.75 21 (Joint 4th)
Marks and Spencer 4 7 96% 4 21 (Joint 4th)
McDonald's 6 3 95% 3 21 (Joint 4th)
Cadbury 14 17 96% 5.75 16 (Joint 5th)
International Committee of the Red Cross 8 13 98% 4.5 16 (Joint 5th)
Boots 12 8 77% 8 15 (6th)
Tesco 11 16 83% 7 14 (7th)
JD Sports 9 22 93% 3.25 13 (Joint 8th)
Waitrose 14 10 95% 4 13 (Joint 8th)
Amazon 17 19 88% 4.5 13 (Joint 8th)
TK Maxx 21 20 82% 5.5 13 (Joint 8th)
Debenhams 19 18 78% 4 10 (Joint 9th)
Lego 23 21 81% 2.5 10 (Joint 9th)
Lidl 20 15 75% 3.5 9 (10th)
ASDA 10 10 67% 3.5 8 (Joint 11th)
KFC 18 12 81 1 8 (Joint 11th)
Littlewoods 22 23 66% 2.5 7 (12th)
Argos 16 11 26% 6 1 (13th)
Curry's PC World 13 14 9% 7.5 -2 (14th)


No. of Twitter mentions: We use Brandwatch to track the number of mentions of the advert on Twitter in the first two days of its release. Points are assigned based on rank.

No of shares across social: We use BuzzSumo to track the number of shares of the advert across social media in the first two days of its release. Points are assigned based on rank.

Sentiment: We use Brandwatch to find the percentage of Twitter mentions of the ad that are either positive or negative.

Brandwatch staff rating: Members of the Brandwatch marketing team rank the adverts out of 10 to add our own feelings to the mix (because why not).

Aggregate score: We bring each of these criteria together to reveal the ads’ final scores.

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