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Kevin the Carrot takes the early lead for Aldi in Christmas ad effectiveness rankings

Kevin in last year’s ad. Source: Aldi/McCann

Aldi is leading the pack in the 2023 Christmas ad effectiveness rankings, as the return of ‘Kevin the Carrot’ delivers the highest possible score for the retailer.

It’s only early November but Christmas advert season is already in full swing. Many retailers and brands, including the likes of Asda, Aldi and M&S, have already revealed their festive offerings for the year.

The early victor in the ad effectiveness rankings is Aldi as it brings back brand character Kevin the Carrot for another festive adventure, this time with a Willy Wonka parody. ‘Kevin and the Christmas Factory’ scores 5.9 stars on System1’s effectiveness rankings, the highest score any ad can achieve.

The star ranking reflects the brand-building potential of an ad, with the scale running from one to 5.9. Any ad ranked over five is deemed “exceptional”, with less than 1% of ads in the platform achieving this.

This year is already yielding a strong crop of festive ads, with six ads scoring five stars or above.

Aldi’s Kevin only narrowly beat an ad featuring another brand character from M&S Food. The retailer brought back its Christmas fairy, voiced by Dawn French, for another year in an ad that also achieved the highest-possible rating of 5.9 stars.

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Kevin has been used by Aldi since 2016 and M&S’s fairy has been appearing in ads since 2021. When Kevin first debuted in 2016, Aldi’s festive effort scored just a “good” three stars for Aldi, before hitting a winning streak of “exceptional” five stars or above scores, something Aldi’s Christmas ads have now achieved for five years running.

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System1 chief customer officer Jon Evans notes that, like Aldi, M&S have “given audiences a couple of years to get used to their brand character”, something which now appears to have paid off.

The other four brands who have crossed System1’s five-star threshold with their 2023 festive ads are Sainsbury’s (5.7 stars), Vodafone (5.6 stars), Coca-Cola (5.3 stars) and Boots (5.3 stars). All four of these ads feature Santa Claus in some shape of form, suggesting he is a hit with viewers this year.

#1 Aldi 5.9 stars
#2 M&S Food 5.9 stars
#3 Sainsbury’s 5.7 stars
#4 Vodafone 5.6 stars
#5 Coca-Cola 5.3 stars
#6 Boots 5.3 stars

“Santa’s never been this central to Christmas ads, and audiences can’t get enough of Saint Nick this year” says System1 chief customer officer Jon Evans, stating that audiences are “hungry” for festive tradition this year.

“That makes it even more impressive that Kevin the Carrot and the M&S Fairy can go toe-to-toe with the big red guy in branding terms – a sign of the power of investing in a strong fluent device character,” he adds.

This year it’s back to basics as brands put the Merry back in Christmas.

Jon Evans, System1

Another theme with the top-scoring ads this year has been emphasising the fun, sharing and generosity of the festive season.

“We’ve seen more purpose-led and down-to-earth ads in recent years as consumers deal with crisis after crisis, but this year it’s back to basics as brands put the Merry back in Christmas,” says Evans.

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While six ads have already surpassed the “exceptional” five star mark this year, last year saw 11 festive ads pass that mark.

Asda was the top-scoring 2022 Christmas ad, with Buddy the Elf scoring the retailer the maximum 5.9 stars. This year, Asda has enlisted the help of singer Michael Bublé to front its Christmas ad. This ad has not made it into System1’s top rankings.

This year, it seems the clear winner in the effectiveness rankings so far is Aldi. It also comes out on top in the ranking of the top retail festive ads by market research firm Zappi. This ranking combines perceptions of brand appeal and an ad’s ability to change behaviour to score ads out of 10.

Aldi scores 8.1 in Zappi’s ranking. As in System1’s rankings, M&S Food also performs strongly, and is ranked third, scoring 7.8.

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