Behind the Scenes of Christmas Creative with Jamie Peate, UK Head of Effectiveness, McCann Worldgroup

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for advertisers and consumers: Christmas! And for the 8th year in a row, Kevin the Carrot and his crew of festive fruit and veg friends return for another adventure. We recently sat down with Jamie Peate, UK Head of Effectiveness at McCann Worldgroup to dive into what makes Aldi’s brand character so beloved and so effective for long-term brand building.

1. In the last five years, Kevin the Carrot has earned 5-Stars on System1’s Test Your Ad platform five times and the maximum 5.9-Stars the last two years. Was the initial plan to feature Kevin once or was there always the hope that he’d be a recurring Fluent Device?  

After Kevin was such a success in year 1, we decided that we would develop a Kevin and non-Kevin route for year 2 and see which one won. It was Kevin again! Since then, that has been the process every year. It has meant that we have had to challenge ourselves to produce a Kevin route that is fresh and exciting but still true to the established format, and try to beat that route with something else. For the last 8 years it’s been Kevin that has won and that is what has made him so fluent. 


2. How early do you start planning for the Christmas ad each year and why?  

It never stops! Here we are in December 2023 and we are already planning Christmas 2024 – it’s always Christmas at Aldi. 


3. Kevin’s been featured in reimagined tales of Home Alone and A Christmas Carol. What inspired 2023’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory narrative? 

When you use a familiar story like any of these it means that it’s much easier to have fun with the narrative while being fairly sure the audience will still understand the overall plot. This story is set in an amazing world that really suits the magic of Christmas but also has jeopardy, kindness and redemption which are all key ingredients for a Christmas story. 

4. Were there other ideas in the mix in addition to the Wonka narrative? What made you confident to move forward with that particular concept?  

There were lots of other ideas in the mix alongside our Christmas Factory. What gives us confidence is obviously the experience that the team has built up over the years, and all the testing with System1 and our qualitative partners. 


5. The boardomatic tested with Test Your Ad scored an impressive result. How do you leverage the insights from the Test Your Ad report and System1’s Guidance to further finetune the creative? 

The great thing about the results is that they are broken down second by second against the FaceTrace. We look at this very closely and discuss it with the all the stakeholders – client, creative, strategy, business leadership and System1. All the learnings (and the learnings from previous years) are considered. Sometimes it’s the subtle changes and small details that can make a big difference and get you to the very highest scores. 


6. Aldi UK and McCann UK have been recognized by Effie Awards Europe and won an IPA Gold thanks to Kevin the Carrot. What impact has this little carrot had on Aldi over the long term?  

There is a great quote from MountainView, the research agency that specialises in distinctive asset research. They call Kevin a ‘Rembrandt in the Attic’, worth millions of pounds to Aldi due to the memories he easily evokes. Kevin has helped Aldi to grow their fame at Christmas, making them an easy and natural choice for Christmas grocery shopping, which in turn helps to grow their revenue at Christmas every year. 


7. Why has humour worked so well in these ads?  

Humour is always at the heart of the Kevin work.  We set out to develop a distinctive style of humour with nods to popular culture, cheeky puns and silly jokes for both young and old. Ultimately, we wanted every piece of work to be entertaining so it got noticed, liked and remembered, and was worthy of repeat viewing and sharing socially. 


8. Do you have a favorite Kevin advert? If so, why? 

A Christmas Carrot is my favourite – I just think the whole story worked so well, the music (Fairytale of New York by The Pogues) fitted perfectly and it got the balance of fun, entertainment and Christmasiness just right without being too silly or too worthy. 

 9. Any fun fruit, veg or other food you’d love to incorporate in a future Kevin advert?  

As 31st Dec. (New Year’s Eve) is just after Christmas, what about some dates . Also Cauliflower Cheese is a big Christmas favourite in our house so maybe a Cheesy Cauliflower. 

A Better Way to Test Distinctive Assets

Want to uncover which of your brand’s distinctive assets are the most valuable? System1’s Test Your Distinctive Assets+ is the first and only solution that measures Feeling to understand the emotions evoked by distinctive assets with life, such as fluent devices.

With Test Your Distinctive Assets+, you uncover:

  • How many people recognize your assets (Fame / Asset Recognition)
  • How quickly people associate the asset with your brand (Fluency / Brand Attribution)
  • The emotions people feel toward the asset (Feeling), thanks to our FaceTrace® technology