Giles Palmer, CEO at Brandwatch, takes a look at some of the social buzz around this year's Christmas adverts, highlighting the success of this year's John Lewis festive ad.
Christmas love is all around
As the countdown till Christmas heads into single digits, retailers across the UK have now had over a month and a half to bombard us, the Great British public, from every medium possible. In fact, barely had the Halloween cobwebs been tidied away before the familiar Christmas jingles started their annual invasion. In between watching the TOWIE Christmas special or The Muppet Christmas Carol for the twentieth time, you cannot have failed to see the raft of Christmas TV adverts from all the big stores.
Year on year these adverts seem to be building in importance to the retailers as a vehicle to cause the most buzz around the holiday season. So which of the stores has come out on top this year, winning the competition to pack their advert chock full of festive cheer and make people feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Or, as they would more accurately see it, winning the competition for share of voice to gain the most Christmas sales.
Never one to turn down a good data investigation, here at Brandwatch our elves have tracked conversation online from the past month to see which of the major stores – Asda, Boots, Debenhams, John Lewis, Littlewoods, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose – has created the most buzz with their advert, and perhaps most importantly whether that buzz was good or bad.
Harnessing the power of love
In the competition for overall share of voice amongst the Christmas chatter there was one clear winner, whose conversation dwarfed that of almost all the other outlets put together. Combining a breathy female cover song, cute kids, a snow people love story and £6m worth of production has really paid off for John Lewis this year as its volume of conversations soared way above the others. On Facebook alone for example the John Lewis video received 2,401 comments and the number of tweets reached well over 30,000.
In terms of total volume over the period, Asda came in at second place (tweet volume for example only reached around the 10,000 mark), followed closely by Marks and Spencer. Trailing in last place, Morrisons barely even gets a look in, with its advert rarely being discussed online.
However, as I am sure everyone is now aware, volume isn’t everything. An advert that is causing mass derision is hardly likely to equate into sales for the brand. So what about the sentiment of all that Christmas conversation?
Firstly, to look into the negatives, there has been a bit of controversy regarding the Asda ad, with people complaining about it being sexist, and Boots has suffered a similar fate due to complaints about ‘animal cruelty’ – apparently dogs do not like being dried with a hairdryer – though we have yet to substantiate this claim…
Asda’s ad, despite a good level of positive sentiment, has therefore seen the highest proportion of negative conversation compared to the other ads (close to half of all the conversation). Perhaps surprisingly given its stripped back format, Waitrose’s charity-themed ad also attracted a fair bit of negative discussion.
Of course there is an argument to be had that at least attracting some emotion is better than none – here Debenhams steps into the spotlight as having the advert the least likely to make viewers feel any emotion. In fact nearly 87 per cent of conversation about the advert was neutral.
The John Lewis advert provoked by far the highest proportion of positive conversation – eliciting words and phrases including ‘love love love’, ‘made me cry’ and ‘love life’ from those joining the discussion online.
Capturing the crowns for volume and positive sentiment of conversation, John Lewis is the clear winner in the social media stakes this Christmas, once again showing the brand's ability to excel in its social media activity.
Loving your work
John Lewis’s social media prowess is already a topic much discussed amongst the marketing community and it has proved its worth on many an occasion. With 39,000 Twitter followers and more than 550,000 'likes' on Facebook, this summer the brand topped our Brandwatch Customer Service Index, attracting more praise than any other brand, responding quicker to complaints and tweeting more frequently. The brand was also careful to personalise the content in their tweets in contrast to the generic replies given by others.
It is great to see a brand who so clearly understands social media and the future looks bright for the company. With the recent appointment of Tribal DDB to work on social media projects, we look forward to charting the progress of the company as it looks to make social media an even more integrated part of the business.
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