Asda’s ‘Have your Elf a Merry Christmas’ is the nation’s favourite ad of 2022, according to a study from System1 and ITV.
The ad, which features Will Ferrell’s Buddy the Elf character edited into an Asda store, received a score of 5.9 stars using System1’s Test Your Ad platform.
Of the 50 highest ranking ads for 2022, all of which received a five-star score, 21 are Christmas themed. This is far higher than in 2021 when just two Christmas ads scored five stars – Aldi and Coca-Cola.
‘All these + more streaming this Christmas’ from Disney+ also received a score of 5.9, as did Amazon’s ‘Joy is Made’, Aldi’s Home Alone-themed Kevin the Carrot instalment, Waitrose’s ‘Food to Feel Good About’ and M&S’s ‘Gifts that Give’. While the scores are all tied on 5.9 stars, the ranking is determined by deferring to the ‘spike’ rating next, and if those are also tied the ‘fluency’ score is then taken into account.
The only non-festive ad to make the top 10 is Samsung’s ‘Curious Cats’. The ad, which highlights the brand’s Galaxy Z Flip 4 phone, received a score of 5.8 stars.
Lindt’s ‘Christmas Time to Melt’ (5.8 stars), Lego’s ‘Build a Playful Holiday’ (5.8 stars) and Nintendo’s ‘Nintendo Switch Lite’ ad (5.7 stars) make up the rest of the top 10.
Jon Evans, chief customer officer at System1, describes 2022 as an “exceptional” year for effectiveness. He believes more brands and agencies “bring their creative ideas forward, resulting in ads that deliver on long-term brand building”.
According to System1, there has been a “dramatic increase” in the number of five-star ratings given to ads compared with 2021 and 2020.
There’s also been an increase in high ranking travel ads, for example, with campaigns from Go Türkiye and Visit Dundee also making the top 50, in 14th and 25th place, respectively.
System1 has also looked at the top ads by category, with Asda topping the list for retail, Disney+ performing best in streaming and TV, and Samsung coming out top for phones.
Lindt has the best performing ad in confectionary, while Nintendo tops the video gaming category and Kellogg’s has the best ad in cereals. The National Lottery’s ad comes out top in the casinos and lotteries category, with Go Türkiye topping travel, McDonald’s coming out top for fast food and Bonne Maman’s ad winning the ice cream and desserts category.
Other themes connecting the top 50 include cultural references and ads that lean on entertainment, while System1 notes confectionary ads feature well every year thanks to their “emotional appeal”.
“It’s encouraging to see more brands creating more emotionally engaging ads,” says Kate Waters, director of client strategy and planning at ITV.
“But an interesting lesson from this year’s top 50 is the importance of not resting on your creative laurels – relative advantage versus your competitors is what really matters and that’s where brilliant creativity and craft can make the difference,” she adds.
While industry professionals might be surprised by some of ads that make up the top 50, in his latest Marketing Week column, Mark Ritson points out that those working in advertising often have a “biased” view of what works, which is “usually wrong”.
His argument hinges on the reaction to Tourism Australia’s recent campaign, wherein some local marketers were “unimpressed with the overall execution”.
However, the ad in question ranked highly using System1 testing. “The paradox of marketing has always been that we control everything except the one thing that matters – the ultimate response to all our efforts,” he said.