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Advertising Christmas John Lewis

Sainsbury's wins the Christmas YouTube battle in the UK, beating John Lewis' #BusterTheBoxer to become most popular festive spot


By Rebecca Stewart | Trends Editor

December 6, 2016 | 6 min read

Sainsbury's has beaten John Lewis for the second year in a row to claim the crown for the most popular Christmas ad on YouTube in the UK.

Sainsbury's Christmas Ad 2016

Sainsbury's wins the Christmas YouTube battle in the UK, beating John Lewis' #BusterTheBoxer to become most popular festive spot / Sainsbury's

Having won over Brits' hearts last year with its sweet 'Mog's Christmas Calamity' spot, the grocer has pipped the department store to the post once again in 2016, according to YouTube's leaderboard.

The Google-owned platform has unveiled the most watched Christmas ads in the UK, and globally, using an algorithm that includes paid views, organic views and how much of a video people watched.

While John Lewis' 'Buster the Boxer' ad topped the global chart, Sainsbury's festive effort 'The Greatest Gift' – which featured the musical stylings of James Corden – came out on top in the UK and stole second place in the international rankings.

Coming third on the worldwide table was 'The Tale of Thomas Burberry', which has clocked up over 13m views thus far.

Elsewhere, German supermarket chain EDEKA landed a viral hit, scooping fourth place with its #Zeitschenken spot which focused on the value of spending time with loved ones at Christmas. Taking up slot number five in the global rankings was Coca-Cola with its 'Neste Natal' Brazillian ad campaign.

Meanwhile, in the UK rankings supermarkets and department stores continued to dominate, but luxury retailers like Burberry and pure-play digital companies such as are beginning to muscle in.

Google noted a 53% increase in the number of UK views of the 2016 top 10 versus the 2015 top 10. You can find out more about the the UK rankings below.

1. Sainsbury's 'The Greatest Gift'

Sainsbury’s Christmas campaign for 2016 comprised a three-minute musical number narrated by James Corden.

Designed to win over the hearts of shoppers, the upbeat musical number follows a day in the life of a stressed dad who resorts to building toy clones of himself to perform his daily chores and spend more time with his family. It has managed to upstage John Lewis on YouTube for the second year in a row, claiming the most views in the UK.

2. John Lewis #BusterTheBoxer

In the UK the John Lewis ad has become as synonymous with Christmas as mulled wine and mince pies. However, this year the retailer failed to take the top spot among UK YouTube viewers, with Buster the bouncing Boxer playing to second fiddle to Sainsbury's.

3. Marks & Spencer 'Christmas With Love from Mrs Claus'

Coming third place in YouTube's UK rankings was Marks & Spencer, with a tongue-in-cheek ad. The British retailer showed that while Mr Claus might put in a lot of work in the run up to the holidays it's Mrs Claus that actually keeps things running smoothly.

4. Waitrose #HomeForChristmas

Waitrose opted for the warm and fuzzy feeling this year, depicting the journey of a Scandinavian robin flying across mountains and seas to come to the UK for Christmas. It was a hit among British viewers, taking the fourth spot in YouTube's lineup.

5. Burberry 'The Tale of Thomas Burberry'

Directed by Academy Award-winner Asif Kapadia, Burberry's three-and-a-half minute long epic told the tale of the company's founder Thomas Burberry and reimagined key events that have shaped the 160-year-old fashion house's history. About Time and Star Wars actor Domhnall Gleeson headed up the cast, and was clearly a hit with viewers helping Burberry finish in fifth place this Christmas.

Coming in sixth place was Very's 'Get More Out of Giving' spot, while Asda's 'Big Dilemma' hit the spot with British viewers at number seven.

This year Argos turned to speed, adrenaline and excitement for its 2016 Christmas advertising campaign. The video featured colourful, and furry, Yetis and was the eighth most popular YouTube Christmas ad in the UK this year. Taking ninth and 10th place were Aldi and Boots respectively.

David Black, managing director of branding at Google UK, said: “We see people coming to YouTube again and again to look for their favourite Christmas ads. In fact, they start searching before the ads are launched on TV - we have seen a 40% year on year increase in Google searches for Christmas ads."

He continued: "Here in the UK, Sainsbury’s quintessentially British commercial, playing on our love of stop-motion animation, has captured the public’s imagination. It’s great to see UK brands leading the way with Christmas ads, and exciting to see American, Brazilian and German brands tapping into this opportunity to put themselves at the heart of a global cultural moment every year."

Advertising Christmas John Lewis

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