Coca-Cola scores ‘double-whammy’ in Christmas ad effectiveness

Coca-Cola’s 2023 Christmas ad ‘The World Needs More Santas’ and its 1995 classic ‘Holidays are Coming’, both achieved “exceptional” scores on System1’s ad effectiveness ranking. However, Holidays are Coming reigns supreme, beating the 2023 ad and achieving the highest possible score.

Coca-Cola Holidays Are Coming Christmas truckCoca-Cola has scored a “double whammy” with its new 2023 Christmas ad and its long-running ‘Holidays are Coming’ ad, which both achieved “exceptional” effectiveness rankings according to System1.

Last week, the brand launched its 2023 festive ad offering ‘The World Needs More Santas’, which hinges on its “core values” of kindness. This year in the UK, the ad will run alongside the long running ‘Wonderful Dream (Holidays are Coming)’ ad, featuring the famous Coca-Cola trucks.

The World Needs More Santas failed to beat the effectiveness score of Holidays are Coming on System1’s Test Your Ad platform; however, it nevertheless achieved an “exceptional” score.

System1’s ‘Test Your Ad’ platform uses people’s emotional responses to an ad to predict its long-term and short-term effectiveness. The star rating signifies the potential of the ad to be effective in the long-term in building market share for a brand. The rating runs from one to 5.9 stars.

Holidays are Coming, first broadcast in 1995, scores the highest possible star rating of 5.9 stars, while The World Needs More Santas scores 5.3. Anything above the five-star barometer is classed as having “exceptional” long-term brand-building capability, according to System1, with only 1% of ads on the platform reaching this threshold.

System1 tested the 2020 version of Holidays are Coming, as the 2023 version has not yet been broadcast on UK TV this festive season. Each year the exact creative can differ very slightly, with the ad being edited to different lengths.

Holidays are Coming is set to air on Friday (10 November) for the first time this year.

Consumers don’t get tired of ads, only marketers do

System1 chief customer officer Jon Evans describes Holidays are Coming as “the yardstick of Christmas advertising”.

“This year “Holidays Are Coming” has hit the maximum possible 5.9 Stars, underlining what a phenomenal asset it is for Coke and the power of re-investing, again and again, in great creative,” Evans says.

Research conducted by Coca-Cola found significant anticipation for and emotional connection with the brand’s long-running ad. Over two-fifths (44%) of British consumers say the ad marks the official start of the Christmas season for them. It also sparks feelings of nostalgia (29%) and happiness (27%) for many British viewers.

The famous jingle is extremely memorable for consumers, the research found, with two-thirds (67%) of people reporting Holidays are Coming gets stuck in their heads.

The 1995 creative has consistently tested well on System1’s platform, scoring above five stars. In 2020, both System1 and Kantar found it was the most effective Christmas ad of the year.

The continued strong performance of the creative, confirms what data from the like of System1, Kantar and Analytic Partners has been consistently demonstrating, that ads rarely wear out.

Given this, Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson has advised brands to “save your new campaign budget and spend it on making your current ads effective for longer”.

The Christmas Coca-Cola association

Last year it appeared Coca-Cola took this strategy, and just ran Holidays are Coming in the UK rather than also running a new ad. This year both will run.

Speaking to Marketing Week about the launch of this year’s ad, Islam ElDessouky, trademark Coca-Cola global creative, strategy and content lead said Coca-Cola is looking to fully utilise the “permission” it has built to be a fixture of the festive season.

“Despite [Coca-Cola] being so iconic and so entrenched in culture and festivities, we try to learn what is needed, what can we tap into?” he said.

The World Needs More Santas looks to build on Coke’s association with Christmas and Santa.

Coca-Cola wants to create ‘a big TV moment’ with Christmas ad focusing on kindness

Commenting on the ad, Kantar’s head of creative excellence Lynne Deason says it “fizzes with the classic Coca-Cola vibe that we all know and love”.

“This year the ad makes use of Coca-Cola’s distinctive positioning and Christmas brand assets, as well as its core values of happiness and optimism, which all now sit at the heart of the story,” she says.

According to Kantar’s effectiveness rankings, The World Needs More Santas is in the top 6% of ads for ad distinctiveness and the top 9% for brand cues.

In 2021, Coca-Cola ran a new ad ‘Chimney’ alongside Holidays are Coming. It celebrated “human connections” in a story about a boy with no chimney. The ad scored 3.7 stars on System1’s platform, which is deemed a “good” score.

Kantar’s Deason notes that Chimney lacked the same distinctiveness as the 2023 ad: “the brand was a much less obvious part of the Christmas story being told.”

While, the 2023 ad doesn’t quite live up to the effectiveness of Holidays are Coming, System1’s Evans notes that its Test Your Ad score puts it on track to be one of the highest-scoring ads of the 2023 festive season.

“It’s a double whammy of 5-Star ads which make this Coke’s best ever Christmas from a Test Your Ad perspective,” he says, commending the brand’s use of its distinctive red and creation of a “funny, original” depiction of Father Christmas.