Coke Truck Index

As we wrap up another year of Christmas advertising, one question remains – how Merry is this Christmas? Scrooges in the press like to predict the death of the Christmas ad and yet this year retailers reportedly spent more than ever on their commercials. But did the ads themselves live up to that?

There are two things you need to know to answer that. The first is how effective the ads are – which is what the Test Your Ad platform tells us, predicting long- and short-term performance for each one.

There was only one new 5-Star ad this year, from Aldi, but a strong crop of 4-Star performers. That’s well down on 2020’s Christmas ads, which saw eight 5-Star spots. But better than the bleak midwinters of 2015-2016, when not a single new ad hit 5-Stars.

The second thing you have to know, though, is how Christmassy people are feeling. Sometimes you’re in the mood for a Christmas ad. Sometimes you’d rather shovel reindeer poo. It might be that after the upheavals of 2020 people were just really ready for Christmas last year. But the Test Your Ad platform can’t measure that. Or… can it?

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It turns out we have a great tool for measuring how in the mood for Christmas viewers are – the Coke “Holidays Are Coming” Christmas ad. It’s the same every year, and we test it every year, so the Test Your Ad platform has years of data on the same commercial.

That means we can use it as a baseline measure of the appeal of Christmas ads. A Coke Truck Index that tracks the overall level of consumer festivity.

It works because Coke Trucks is a very consistent performer. From 2017 to 2021 “Holidays Are Coming” gets between 4.9 and 5.2 Stars every year, with one exception. And yes, that exception is 2020, when “Holidays Are Coming” hit a massive 5.9 Stars – the maximum possible Test Your Ad score.

So people really were feeling extra-Christmassy last year, and 2021 is more of a normal season. That’s not to take away from the great ads brands came up with. After all, knowing the mood of their customer is what every marketer wants to do.

Having “Holidays Are Coming” as a benchmark lets us do something else, too – we can see how many new-to-air ads manage to outscore it. Beating Coke Trucks is the ultimate Christmas ad achievement and unsurprisingly not many brands have done it. John Lewis did in 2019 with “Excitable Edgar” and so did Amazon with their singing parcels. But last year despite all those 5-Star ads nobody beat the trucks.

In 2021 though one brand managed it. Aldi’s Kevin The Carrot outscored “Holidays Are Coming” for the first time.

It’s a big achievement, but as this chart shows it hasn’t happened overnight. What’s so fascinating about Kevin and the trucks is that the last few years show the carrot getting closer and closer in score before finally overtaking it this year. The Coke Trucks are still a prime source of delight for viewers – but they look forward to Kevin just as much.

It underlines what we keep saying about Fluent Devices and brand mascots. They are a long term investment. The Coke Trucks first hit screens in 1995 and didn’t become a Christmas fixture until the 2000s. Kevin dates from 2016 – a lifetime ago in modern advertising terms – but it’s taken him six annual appearances to beat Coke’s iconic ad. Start building a Fluent Device like Kevin now and it’ll be creating wealth for your brand for years to come.

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