The Best Christmas Ads in Australia and New Zealand
If there’s one market that’s embraced the British tradition of the Christmas ad, it’s Australia. Naturally, Aussie ads (and those from New Zealand) don’t make so much use of the big tropes of UK commercials – most obviously, there’s no snow at this time of year. But that gives scope to be more inventive, and the core themes of togetherness, generosity and celebration still make for emotional ads.
Below are the top 10 Australia and New Zealand ads of 2019, using System1’s Ad Testing method, which looks at an ad’s potential for long-term brand-building (Star Rating) as well as short-term sales impact (Spike).
Star Rating is based on how an ad leaves viewers feeling – it is this ‘remembering self’, which governs future action. Simply put, the more we feel, the more we buy – but note that only 1% of all ads get 5-Stars; whereas 53% score 1-Star.
Spike Rating is our prediction of an ad’s short-term sales impact. It is based on the dynamic emotional journey viewers experience when watching an ad, fused with branding fluency. The output is an indexed score – the higher above 1 it goes, the better – scores of 1.33 and above are considered excellent.
Now onto the top ten…
1 - Joules
Christmas At The Click Of A Button
The number one ad this year – and the only top-rated 5-Star ad on the list – also scored 5-Stars on our UK Christmas countdown. It’s easy to see why – it stars Wallace and Gromit, as well-loved in Australia as in their UK homeland, and it uses the two extremely well. The guest stars feature in a warmly amusing sketch which captures their charm as well as putting over the message that retailer Joules can deliver your Xmas quickly and easily.
2 - Woolworths
Picked For Christmas
Fresh fruit retailer Woolworths brings the sunshine in this ad celebrating fruit, freshness and abundance. It’s a straightforward piece of work but no less effective for that – tables heaped with food are often a solid route to emotional effectiveness in the holiday season.
3 - Coles
To celebrate 100 years in business, retailer Coles uses a Christmas montage. It’s a great technique for quickly building feelings of nostalgia, tradition, and togetherness – all of which appeal to the right-brain, even though the ad sacrifices a single coherent story to get there. The framing of the ad as a thank you to customers rounds things off strongly, and Coles can be pleased with the highest Spike score (for short-term activation) of our Top Ten.
4 - Lotto NZ
My Found Lotto Ticket Party
This ad is unusual – it’s a follow-up to their Lost Ticket commercial, which got a lot of attention and views back in June. That one told the story of a woman’s quest to recover a lost winning Lotto ticket. This one is a sweet gift-giving coda, showing what happens now she’s found it. Heartwarming, and it ended up our highest scoring New Zealand ad with a very high 3-Stars. Reusing characters, ideas and assets is often something modern advertisers steer clear from – but they should embrace it. Once you’ve made an ad people like, they might be happy to find out ‘what happens next’ – as Lotto NZ prove.
5 - Myer
Christmas Is Where We Are
A Christmas family story with an Australian twist – a kid is going camping at Christmas, but worries how Santa will know where she is. Her inventiveness is noticed – then matched – by her Dad. A touching ad with lots of right-brained elements – dialogue, unspoken communication, strong characters and storyline – to land a high 3-Star score.
6 - Australia Post
Spread The Merry
Australia Post’s tear-jerking ad reminds us of an old UK John Lewis effort – “Man In The Moon” – with its story of a youngster helping out a lonely elderly man. The Post’s ad outperforms that older spot, perhaps because its literally more down-to-earth setting feels more real. But also more raw – this is quite a sad ad, despite the uplifting resolution at the end, and that might be what keeps the Star score down at a high 3. Spike, however, is very strong.
7 - NZ Post
Keeping Ho Ho Hush Hush
NZ Post takes a quirkier and funnier approach than its Aussie equivalent, with an ad in which people lying to relatives about Christmas presents are betrayed by their Pinnochio-style extending noses. It’s a great example of using a cultural reference to good effect in an ad, which the IPA’s book Lemon found was an example of a right-brained element that could help effectiveness. There’s not much to the ad beyond its one witty idea, though, and a stronger storyline might have pushed it higher up the list.
8 - Countdown
Countdown To Christmas
Our third Kiwi ad on the list is a simple but gleeful romp from retailer Countdown, using Europe’s 80s rock classic “The Final Countdown” to capture the frenzy and fun of Christmas preparations. A strong use of music helps put it in 3-Star territory with a fine Spike score.
9 - Big W
Every Day's A Big Day
Like the NZ Post ad, this one relies on a single visual gimmick – films of Christmas decoration run backwards. There’s definitely fun to be had watching decorations pour themselves back off a table and presents unwrap, and the ad gets a 3-Star result. But there’s no real connection between the vignettes and not much connection to the brand – which may explain the relatively disappointing Spike score.
10 - The Warehouse Group
The One Place For Any Christmas
Finally, a New Zealand ad which shows a diverse bunch of Kiwis enjoying Christmas in different ways, united by gifts and gear from The Warehouse. It’s a joyful ad, but a little bit generic.
Looking at the Top 10, what’s interesting is how few of them aim to tell much of a story. The emotion’s front and centre in these commercials, but a lot of them are montages rather than narratives. As Coles shows, that technique can work fine with enough of a twist. But next year, it would be good to see more brands try some ambitious stories and add a bit of fantasy and magic to the season.