Kevin The Carrot Delights Again
Christmas Launch Advert
When Aldi introduced Kevin The Carrot in 2016, they were doing something slyly innovative. There had been plenty of animated characters in Christmas ads before – a trend pioneered by John Lewis – but their appearances were all one-shots. If you liked Monty The Penguin, say, and wanted to see more of his story, you were out of luck – next year would bring a new character.
In 2016 Kevin didn’t look any different. But he was. The success of that first ad – and the Kevin toys, which sold out right away – led to more, and Kevin came back for a second year. And a third. He became something unique: a Christmas Fluent Device.
Fluent Devices are recurring characters (or scenarios) which appear across multiple ads in a campaign. Fluent Device characters are more than just mascots – their adventures are the core of the ad stories. Our work on Fluent Devices has shown how using them makes campaigns more likely to result in profit gain, market share gain and the ability to charge a price premium.
Why do Fluent Devices work so well? They build positive feeling – the ads are entertaining – and also brand fluency – the character becomes a distinctive brand asset that increases recognition. Once you’ve made a few ads, and the character has become familiar to the audience, there’s a sense of anticipation as to the next one.
So how successful has Kevin been? The 2020 campaign, which sees him stranded in the snow and making his way home with the help of Santa and a friendly hedgehog, is his fifth annual appearance. No other major brand has stuck with a Christmas character for so long.
In 2016, 2017 and 2018 Kevin’s ads performed well, but not exceptionally. They scored a very steady 3-Stars, which was good, but not great for Christmas ads. But all the time the audience’s familiarity with Kevin was building. The heroic carrot was becoming part of the fabric of Christmas.
And in 2019, it started to pay off. Last year’s ad saw a sudden jump in Kevin’s score, to 4.7-Stars, with an ad involving a circus (and a song by Robbie Williams). It was one of the best UK ads of the year.
Then in March, Kevin popped up quickly at the end of a non-Christmas Aldi ad, about the store’s efforts in the UK’s first Covid-19 lockdown. The optimistic ad hit 5-Star, and it’s very possible Kevin’s cameo played a part.
And now we have the 2020 Christmas results in – and it’s another huge jump in Star score for Kevin The Carrot. The new ad gets a massive 5.8-Stars, putting it straight to the top of our Christmas ads list and setting a very strong marker for rival brands. It also gets an excellent short-term Spike score (1.47) which is another big jump from 2019 (up from 1.31)
Kevin is – for now – the king of Christmas. And he’s a brilliant example of what makes Fluent Devices so strong as a long-term brand-building play. If you have one people like, and you keep using it, they’ll start liking it more and wanting to see it more. They are well worth the investment and the patience.
Merry Christmas, Aldi and Kevin, and here’s to many more adventures to come. We’ll be rooting for him!