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Brief Published: 25 Nov 2020

Christmas Ads: Consumer Response


Bidding to respond to divergent consumer attitudes at a time of year when unity is prized, brands and ad agencies have created a range of campaigns, which run the gamut from revelling in ‘nowstalgia’ to highly emotive tales of family connections. We chart the consumer reaction.

Coke, Disney & Lego Score Emotional Wins: Coca Cola and Disney’s adverts, both of which focus on cross-generational family stories, have scored most highly with consumers, with Lego placed third. Disney’s ad, which charts the relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter via a stuffed Mickey Mouse toy, was found to be the most ‘emotionally engaging’ advert of 40 major brands, according to British advertising platform Unruly with 45% of respondents saying that they responded to it emotionally (Unruly, 2020).

Coca Cola’s advert, directed by New Zealand’s Taika Waititi, tells the tale of a father going to the ends of the Earth to deliver a letter from his daughter to Father Christmas, was placed second, with 44% of respondents saying it prompted an emotional response in them. Lego's advert, which scored 39%, charts several families playing with Lego as a fantasy world featuring dragons, dinosaurs and astronauts gradually emerges from living rooms. Nodding to the stresses and strains of 2020 in an optimistic on-brand fashion, the ad ends with the tagline 'Rebuild the World'. 

Gucci Taps into ‘Nowstalgia’: Italian luxury brand Gucci’s campaign taps into a longing for the once-maligned office Christmas party with a campaign created by London-based filmmaker and DJ Akinola Davies Jr. The campaign centres on ‘nowstalgia’ – a longing for the recent, Covid-free past - as detailed in Pop Culture Round-Up: Summer 2020. Cleverly bypassing any explicit Covid associations, its depiction is firmly retro, with both the set and models reflecting Gucci’s trademark 1970s aesthetic.

The campaign has ratcheted up 237k views on the brand’s Instagram, 100k more than its previous Harmony Korine-directed effort in 2019. Gucci also employed a diverse cast of models, both in terms of race and age. For more on the brand’s inclusive approach to casting, see The Brief.

TikTok Users Counter Racist Backlash: UK supermarket Sainsbury’s became the target of bigoted social media commentary after releasing the first of its three Christmas adverts. The ad portrays a Black family discussing past festive seasons over the phone as video cam-style footage played, with family members hoping that they will be able to meet once more.

TikTok users responded to the social media furore, joking that they would be shopping in Sainsbury’s in response to racist calls to boycott the supermarket. Sainsbury’s also responded to comments directly on Twitter, telling users that it “aimed to represent modern Britain”. For more on brand-led inclusivity efforts, see Active Allyship