The gifts are out of their wrappings, the champagne bottles are still in theirs, so what better time to announce the best-liked holiday commercials? (Champagne corks may start popping early in Shockoe Slip, because the Martin Agency created one of them.)
There were more holiday ads this year — 30% more than in 2010, to be specific — but that didn’t necessarily give consumers more to like. According to Ace Metrix, which surveys consumer likes and dislikes to rate commercials on a scale from 0 to 950, more than half scored below their category norms.
Ho, ho, ho
No less than 35 of the new commercials featured Santa in one way or another, and, says Ad Metrix CEO Peter Daboll, “each one scored higher than the norm.”
The top-scoring Santa ad had him talking to Siri on his new iPhone to schedule his deliveries. With overtones of Miracle of 34th Street, Macy’s solicited letters to Santa, with a promise of $1 donated to charity for each letter received, with a $1 million cap. Coca-Cola showed him in his red suit and white beard, while Aleve — in some very apropos product sell — had him taking their product for all-day relief from those back pains that schlepping around a huge bag of gifts all day causes.
No, no, no
Best Buy ran a campaign of eight spots challenging Santa for inventory and speed of delivery, then alienated customers by the thousands with their clumsy mishandling of their failure to deliver on their claims.
Among commercials getting the most wintry reception were a flock of 150 new car commercials, many of them pushing year-end sales where you could buy an expensive car as a holiday gift. “Consumers really respond well to ads that go beyond just, ‘Shop here. Buy it now,” Daboll noted. The car spots didn’t.
Best-liked retail commercials
#1 and #3: Macy’s Two of their commercials encouraging kids to believe in Santa and drop their letters off at Macy’s (where the parents who brought them there will doubtless be tempted to impulse-buy) were at the top of the list. “A Million Reasons to Believe” spelled out the $1 matching donation offer for the first million letters, while “Santa’s Mailing Address,” urged kids to drop their letters off you-know-where.
#2 and #4: Sears: They did so well with their commercials, it’s a shame they’ll have to ring in the new year by closing some 200 stores. The second- and fourth-highest scorers use talking gingerbread cookies and a product demonstration to sell new ovens at a year-end sale — a lot less formulaically than how the car manufacturers tried to sell cars.
#5: Walmart Employees tell the camera they can’t guarantee how your kids will react to their gifts, but they can guarantee the lowest prices on them, with a gift card making up the difference between their price and any one consumers find that’s lower. (Created by the Martin Agency of Richmond.)
#6 and #8 (tie): Target “Done” celebrates the feeling of having completed all your holiday preparations on time, thanks to their help. “One Minute Past Thanksgiving” has a home tranforming itself into Christmas mode the instant the last Thanksgiving guests leave — a subtle reminder to start lining up for Target’s earlier-than-ever Black Friday sale.
#7: Home Depot “A Better Season” sells Christmas trees and decorations something many consumers may not have expected to find at a hardware chain.
Two more ties for #8: Best Buy “Apple Selection” claims an Apple inventory so large, and delivery so fast, that “Santa better watch his back.” Too bad Santa was better at delivering. “Black Friday Bruce” shows television sale prices that will make even skeptics line up at oh-dark-hundred.
Best-liked product commercials
#1 and #7: Pillsbury I have no idea why “Home for the Holidays” and “Crescent Wrapped Brie” scored so well; they’re essentially product demonstration and recipe commercials.
#2: Coke Depicts the whole world as Santa’s snow globe. Slogan: Open Happiness
#3: Nintendo 3DS Demonstrates a Mario game and 3D video capability. Four guys play the game, and the (biggest) loser has to do an elf dance, which one of the other losers shoots in 3D on his new Nintendo. Guess that’s what you get instead of a life.
#4: Duracell Three disjointed claims — that Duracell batteries are reliable, that Duracell trucks deliver batteries somewhere on a snowy night, and that kids in a hospital enjoy battery-powered toys — combine to imply that Duracell donates batteries to a children’s hospital. If they do, they should say so. If they don’t, they shouldn’t misleadingly imply it.
#5: Aleve A great combination of holiday theme and year ’round brand message. “Pain Free Holiday” shows Santa’s back pain getting worse and worse as he makes his rounds with that big, heavy, gift-filled bag, until someone leaves him Aleve instead of milk and cookies.
#6: Marie Callender’s A boy regrets having graduated to the grownups’ table when he sees his favorite dessert — Marie Callender’s apple pie — being served to the kids’ table.
#8: IHOP Sale-priced holiday pancake toppings make a dour old man — unsurprisingly revealed 11 seconds into the 15-second spot as one E. Scrooge IV — cheer up and give the postman a gift.
#9: Verizon Wireless Shows spectaular holiday displays made by combining Samsung smartphones, which happen to be on sale.
#10: Outback Steakhouse Food shots with three intercuts of Christmas as observed in Australia (mainly two shots of a sailboat lit up with lights in the middle of an otherwise empty estuary).
Christmas having come and gone, these commercials are all off air, but in case you missed them, you can catch them in all their holiday glory here.