Modern Marketing Brand Strategy Most Effective Ads of the Month

Asda’s Will Ferrell Elf homage crowned UK’s most-liked November TV ad


By John McCarthy | Media editor

November 30, 2022 | 7 min read

Each month hundreds of new TV ads launch in the UK – we’ve tasked System1 with analyzing the creative to test which ones real members of the public like best. In November, Asda’s Elf recreation trumped John Lewis’ latest cinematic.


The Asda ad took the top spot / Havas London

Jon Evans, chief marketing officer at System1, explains how the ad industry’s darlings aren’t always the most effective work in the eyes of the Great British public.

How it works

System1 tests ads on measures that predict long-term brand growth (star rating) and short-term sales growth (spike rating) – each between one and five stars. These measures are validated using the independent Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) database and against real sales data at a category level.

5. Lego: Lego Holiday Hero Film 2022

5.8 stars

Evans says: “It’s no surprise Christmas ads dominate our top five this month. We’ve seen the best-ever test scores for Christmas ads, as brands have avoided hard-sell tactics in a cost-of-living crisis, and dialed up the emotion and happy festive memories.

“Lego’s ad is more of a general holiday-themed commercial than one specifically about Christmas – not surprising from a brand that leans hard and successfully on the cross-cultural idea of play. As with most recent Lego spots, the joy of the ad is imagining a world where the stuff you build is real, and the wild flights of imagination that can spur. Katy Perry appears to add a little star power and make the ad stand out from most Lego spots, but the overall playful vibe is what matters here.”

Check the full report here.

4. Marks & Spencer: Gifts That Give

5.9 stars

“M&S put purpose in the spotlight with an ad celebrating its partnership with community charity Neighbourly (which also benefited from Aldi’s Christmas ad this year).

“The execution is the absolute opposite of worthy and dull, though – a celebration of giving that turns into a joyful romp with a Harry Styles soundtrack, honking and marching choirs and even a few farm animals. This is the trick to doing purpose well at Christmas time: if you can make people feel delighted by the ad anyway, the charitable tie-in comes across even better.”

Check the full report here.

3. Aldi: Aldi Christmas Advert 2022

5.9 stars

“Kevin the Carrot’s seventh Christmas outing is his highest scoring yet – the public’s love of the plucky vegetable shows no signs of weakening. This is also Aldi’s fourth year in a row making a 5-star Christmas ad.

“With even arch-rivals Lidl making a character-driven Christmas ad, Kevin is the face of festive retail. This year’s ad riffs on Home Alone and has the usual stocking-full of topical references and cheeky jokes, which make repeated exposures a pleasure.”

Check the full report here.

2. Amazon: Joy is Made

5.9 stars

“Amazon shows off its product range and capacity to make a perfect Christmas idea real in this story of a dad who recreates the world inside his kid’s beloved snow globe – but that’s not all it is advertising. Amazon in 2022 is also a streaming media powerhouse, and a Christmas ad is the perfect chance for the brand to flex its storytelling abilities.

“Like Coke last year, it hired top director Taika Waititi to bring an emotional story of family love to life, and Waititi does his job perfectly, landing a maximum 5.9-star score for Amazon. The ad is also wordless, which is important given it is built to appeal globally and has to transcend language barriers.”

Check the full report here.

1. Asda: Have your Elf a Merry Christmas

5.9 stars

“Our top-scoring ad was one of the first to launch this month – Asda set the nostalgic tone for the season by splicing Will Ferrell’s Buddy the Elf into an Asda store. It’s a technically clever ad, but full of heart and joy too.

“Usually with ads that rely on ‘hired’ characters from other media there’s an issue with brand attribution – are people loving the ad and not realizing who it’s for? No such problem here – Asda’s ad excels on short-term and brand fluency metrics, as well as getting a maximum 5.9-star rating.”

Check the full report here.

And if you love this ad, we got behind the scenes with the creative agency.

Modern Marketing Brand Strategy Most Effective Ads of the Month

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