Aldi Break Christmas Ad Records


Christmas Advert 2022


Kevin The Carrot keeps breaking Test Your Ad records. 2022’s Home Alone based ad has scored a maximum 5.9-Stars making Aldi the first Christmas advertiser to score 5-Star Christmas ads four years in a row. Before we dig into what makes this year’s ad work so well it’s worth looking back on Kevin’s illustrious career.

The plucky vegetable and his animated adventures first appeared in 2016 with a respectable 3-Star Christmas ad. At the time we welcomed it as an attempt to introduce the success of repeating Fluent Device characters into a festive ad landscape dominated by sentimental storytelling in the highly successful John Lewis mode. Aldi’s bold move was to re-introduce humour and brand consistency with a character audiences would want to see return each Christmas.

Over the years Kevin’s world expanded – with funnier stories, an extended family, characters like the reformed villain Ebanana Scrooge and a nice line in topical references as easter eggs for ad fans. At the same time Kevin’s Star Rating improved. He hit 5-Stars on Test Your Ad for the first time in 2019 and he’s never looked back, claiming the No.1 spot with last year’s Scrooge-themed ad, one of only two to get 5-Stars in Xmas 2021.

This year the Christmas context is very different. Marketers have risen to the challenge of the cost-of-living and energy crisis, by making warm, home- and family-oriented, fundamentally optimistic ads which have resulted in a record-breaking number of 5-Star Xmas ads. And the template for many of them is… Kevin The Carrot.

Aldi are to Christmas advertising in the 2020s what John Lewis were in the 2010s: the template everyone else is either zigging towards or zagging away from. Their mix of humour, topical references, and strong characters is everywhere from Tesco, to discount rival Lidl, right up to premium retailers like M&S. Kevin’s gone from cheeky challenger to Christmas King.

Which poses a problem for Aldi. How do they make sure Kevin’s imperial phase lasts? How do you keep a six-year-old carrot fresh? We at System1 were delighted and honoured to help Aldi once again as a research partner, helping them test the effectiveness of their ideas with real audiences using Test Your Ad.

This year they’ve drawn strongly on the power of cultural references. Home Alone is a classic Christmas movie that’s 30 years old – right in a nostalgic sweet spot for viewers and a rich source of visual jokes and winks towards the original film. There’s a tiny bit of peril for Kevin, but mostly just a constant stream of funny moments interspersed with shots of Aldi’s Christmas food. That helps keep happiness sky-high throughout the ad. And the cheeky side of Kevin hasn’t gone away – as well as the cultural references there’s a naughty snowman gag to boost surprise (and win a few column inches).

Cultural references, an exciting narrative and strong characters all work for the same reason – they win right-brained attention and help build emotional response. To add to the fun, even the teaser ad this year scored 5-Stars (the first Christmas teaser ever to do so) with a take off of the classic 1998 World Cup “Airport” ad. Again, absolutely stuffed with references.

The result is a record high score for our carrot hero – a top-scoring 5.9, up with the best Christmas ads ever. This year, though, Kevin isn’t alone at the top of the tree, as other ads have hit that highest score too – people are really keen to see Christmas cheer. So you’ll have to wait until the end of November to find out if Aldi are No.1 again.

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