Fewer than one in 10 Netmums members polled said the ad – which depicts a mother preparing for Christmas Day – was sexist, with 61 per cent saying the ads reflected real life where mothers tend to “do most of the preparation”.

The Advertising Standards Authority has received more than 190 complaints about the ad since its launch and has launched a formal investigation into the spot.

Earlier this month as the row was escalating about the ad Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard said while some of its members felt the spot was “a little cheesy”, others felt it was “part of the charm”.

Freegard continued: “There will always be a small hardcore of people who are easily offended and complain about anything and everything, but most normal mums see the ad for what it is – a lighthearted look at a family’s festive preparations designed to spread a bit of Christmas cheer.”

Rival parenting forum Mumsnet, however, told Marketing Week the ad was the subject of more than 1,000 comments on its forums in less than 24 hours – with many of its users saying the spot was “patronising”.

The most popular ad amongst Netmums members this year is the John Lewis “Snowman” spot (see the top 10 below).

Almost half (47 per cent) of the 1,200 mums polled said they wanted ads that feature “lots of children”, while 44 per cent said they look for commercials that feature snapshots of real families’ “special moments”.

Additionally, 44 per cent said they preferred ads with well-known songs, with about a third (30 per cent) claiming they buy music just because it had featured on a Christmas advert. The John Lewis ad features a cover of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood song “The Power of Love” by Gabrielle Aplin – which is currently number 7 in the UK singles charts.

The majority (96 per cent) of Netmums said they dislike Christmas ads that feature celebrities, which may explain why Waitrose’s ad featuring Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal featured so low down in the list (8).

Top 10 Christmas ads 2012
(Source: Netmums)
1. John Lewis
2. Asda  
3. M&S
4. Morrisons
5. Aldi
6. Debenhams
7. Boots
8. Waitrose   
9. Tesco
10. Matalan