Christmas, or as I like to call it the “The Festive Adland Showdown” (maybe there’s a snappier title) has begun. But who are the biggest movers and shakers when it comes down to brand mental availability? We’ve ranked this year’s offering in terms of brand distinctiveness and memorability. 

Christmas, Covid and Carrots: who’s sleighing festive ads?

JOHN LEWIS

Rewind to 2011, we all thought John Lewis had cracked the code to Christmas ads, of course, I’m talking about “The long wait”. Storytelling + a heartwarming ending + simple message = not a dry eye in the house. However fast forward, 2021, all that they’re left with now is a great end line. “Celebrate Christmas like it’s your first”. Owing to the pandemic-induced lockdowns of last year, their end line is relatable. And their acoustic cover has created a familiar heuristic for the brand but other than this there’s little going for this ad. It just doesn’t hit as hard as previous years, and will be a tough one to link across their channels. 

SAINSBURYS

Next up, Sainsburys. Competing for a piece of the adland pie, they had some making up to do. Last year’s “The Gravy Song” flopped, failing to be heartwarming or humorous, and ending up more into the cringe category. For 2021 they’ve released “A Christmas to Savour”, opting for a slightly more bizarre approach (note the facial expressions), yet it still falls short of a razzle-dazzle Christmas ads, it’s more…meh. It’ll be forgotten quicker than the joke in your cracker. The opening typeface might be recognisable as Sainsburys, but other than that, there’s little tying the ad to the brand.

COCA-COLA

It’s time for Coca-Cola. The absolute cornerstone of Christmas. They’ve served up a heartwarming ad – “Chimney” – aimed at combating loneliness during the festive season. Note the brand red running throughout the advert, along with some less than subtle product placement. Both assets create an easy shortcut to the brand. Sure, they’ve added the garish bells and whistles, but this advert has a real meaning behind it. A strong contender. 

n.b. Owing to the heavy product placement, I found myself praying that the lady didn’t receive a mere bottle of Coke as her chimney surprise.

BOOTS

A beautiful ad from Boots. They’ve pulled on all the emotions of Christmas emotions: excitement, love, humour, and successfully tied it together into something so eloquently British. Big points for Boots, the brand has taken seasonal sob-fest and given it an edge, while paying tribute to a true British icon – Mary Poppins.  And in typical Boots style, they highlight the dazzling side of Christmas, distinct to the brand for sure. Yes, the ad is product-heavy, but it’s not pushy. The ad works across all their channels, and it’s easy to imagine what their paper carriers will be sporting this year…

ALDI

Well, how could we not mention the antagonists of the supermarket category – Aldi. 

You’ve probably seen the media-storm this year over Cuthbert the Caterpillar (who makes a cameo in the ad). However, this year, their main brand mascot Kevin the Carrot was sidelined for a new character, Ebanana Scrooge, and what a wonderful ad they’ve created. It’s got everything: a traditional story mixed with celeb influencers, the Pogues, and peppered with some stirling puns. You know it’s Aldi, without any physical mention of the brand. A real hat-tip towards mental availability. 

So, what was it that made Aldi so distinctive and leave John Lewis trailing in the dust?

It seems the winners this year are brands who’ve opted for a seriesEveryone knows Kevin the Carrot, and we’re sure Ebanana Scrooge will also be dominating Aldi’s middle aisle this year. Maybe that’s the formula: take a constant, and weave it into a new story each time. And remember to allow your campaign to be seen across all touchpoints. 

Maybe John Lewis should take a few notes from the humble supermarket 🤷‍♂️

Ready to see which brands are doing mental availability well? Download our Winners and Losers report here. 

And if you’d like to see your own score, get in touch for a free brand audit. We’re happy to help, email james.b@thebehavioursagency.com