From Mince Pies to Testing Live

Last year nothing symbolised the UK’s Christmas advertising crop better than the humble mince pie. The festive treat took a starring role in commercials by Waitrose, Aldi, and M&S (whose gently comedic “Mrs Claus” was the most emotional Christmas ad of the year). It summed up the trends we saw last year. Mince pies are traditional, comforting, and unashamedly enjoyable. And so were the 2016 Christmas ads, with sentimental tear-jerkers put to one side in favour of more humorous approaches.

As Xmas displays show up in stores, it won’t be long before the 2017 UK Christmas ads start appearing too. As usual, System1 will be testing them for our FeelMore50™ list of the year’s most emotional ads, because emotional advertising is the surest route to long-term profitable growth for brands. But this time, we’ll be testing them with a difference. We’ll be doing it live.

We’re planning that every time a Christmas ad is released, we’ll get our test into field immediately and have the emotional results up on this site within hours. You can follow the results yourself either by visiting the site or following us on twitter.  And if you see an ad you think we’ve missed, give us a shout and we’ll add it to the roster.

What can we expect in 2017? We’ve a couple of educated guesses based on market research and trends.

MORE LAUGHS: The pendulum between making people feel good through heart-warming ads and making them feel good through funny ads tends to swing back and forth. Last year we saw a shift back to comic ads, and the same trend surfaced in the US at the Super Bowl. We expect more of the same this year before the trend peaks.

TRADITION WITH A TWIST: There are always ads which draw on Britain’s rich Christmas traditions, and this year will be no exception. But after the success of “Mrs. Claus”, which balanced tradition with cheeky commentary on it, we expect advertisers will try and find a spin on favourite Christmas concepts which appeals to broader audiences.

PRICING MESSAGES: In a precarious economy with a lot of uncertainty, it’s a safe bet that some ads will be focusing firmly on saving money at Christmas. The big challenge is – will they be able to do that and still create a positive emotional impact? Ads with strong pricing messages tend to be an ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ proposition – the emotional content is there to soften a highly direct, rational message.  That doesn’t build brands or accelerate growth in the long term, so we’ll be looking out for anyone who can talk about lower costs in a distinctively emotional way.

We’re making a list, we’re checking it twice, we’re going to find out who’s ads will entice. Please join us – it’ll be a lot of fun.

Keep updated with our weekly FeelMore50 UK Christmas newsletter.

Written by Tom Ewing, Head of Communication, System1


At System1, we help the world’s largest advertisers make confident, creative decisions that lead to transformational business results. Our powerful ad testing platform (Test Your Ad) and our idea testing platform (Test Your Idea) help brands predict the commercial potential of ads and ideas. Complementing TYA and TYI is Test Your Brand, our brand tracking tool which measures the impact of ads and ideas on brand health, ensuring long-term brand growth through predictive success.
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