Creative Creative Works Christmas

Amazon’s ‘Joyride’ is no Christmas turkey – it’s one of the world’s most effective ads


By Andrew Tindall, Global Director

November 15, 2023 | 8 min read

Ignore the naysayers calling it a turkey. Amazon’s Christmas ad is one of the highest-scoring of the last decade with the viewing public, says System 1’s Andrew Tindall.

Amazon's 'Joyride' ad, complete with an additional Turkey

In November, our socials are awash with marketers’ opinions on which ads are flops or Christmas miracles. It’s hard to find the true guiding light among the bravado or agency politics. Amazon’s festive ‘Joy Is Shared’ has been lost in this adland-opinion-fog. Campaign declared the in-house campaign a ‘Turkey of the Week’. I’m here to cast out personal opinion and share the opinion of those that really matter – the customer.

I’ve been there, sat client-side staring at a wall covered in post-it notes describing what our “target customer” likes doing in their spare time, what they have for breakfast, and what star sign they are. Just like how our opinion of who our customers are is almost always wrong, our opinion on how effective advertising will be is wrong almost all the time.

How do I know this? Well, I’m a lucky guy. I work for System1, which measures the real human emotional response of the public to advertising to create a Star Rating that predicts advertising’s impact on long-term business results. The more intensely positive advertising makes people feel, the more memories are created and behaviors are changed. Don’t take my word for it; Orlando Wood has worked with the IPA to show this metric predicts global market share changes.

As we test every UK TV ad, I’m telling you that Amazon’s new Christmas ad is a lion in turkey’s clothing. In fact, it’s the best it has ever made and one of the world’s most effective ads. Firstly, let’s re-watch this beauty with our second-by-second emotion and brand data.

Once you’ve wiped the tears from your eyes, let me share a fact no one else can: Amazon has spent the last six years making its advertising more effective. I looked into our database of over 160 Amazon ads. They keep getting better.

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Amazon 2

See that dot in the top right corner above? That’s this year’s Christmas ad. It scores 5.9 Stars in our testing. The highest an ad can, the most effective ad Amazon has made, and one of the most effective ads we’ve ever tested globally. This isn’t a plump, over-fed turkey. It’s a lean lion six years in the making. And our data shows why this ad is a magnificent beast, not the centerpiece for the Christmas feast.

Amazon has invested heavily to turn its packaging into a distinctive brand asset. Now, it reaps the rewards. It can effortlessly tell stories where the Amazon brand is front and center without awkwardly disrupting the flow or passively slipping the logo at the bottom of the screen for no one to see. The box is the star of the show. It has emotional attention and gets noticed. It is leading to a huge spike in fluency (brand recognition) when it’s shown on screen. By the end, 98% of viewers link the ad to the brand. This sort of fluency is almost unheard of.

Some creatives may comment on the story being too one-dimensional or not surprising enough. Well, someone needs to release a “High Horse of The Week” award next because the UK public loves this moving storyline. Humans want character, incident and a clear sense of place–a scene unfolding over time. With implicit communication, an emotional tune you can hum and a bit of tension that eventually gets released. Enter The Beatles’ ‘In My Life’ and a heartwarming story of three old friends coming together. It entertains for commercial gain.

It’s also strategically sound.

Amazon is the rare brand that can actually deliver your gift tomorrow. It’s a costly product truth and an emotional lever Amazon can pull at Christmas. This makes it relatively different from the competition and salient. It’s simple, and strategy needs to be simple. We don’t need any 50-page strategy decks here.

Through this heady mix of an emotional story with a peak positive end, the ‘product’ is at the center from the onset. This ad will achieve what marketing textbooks will have you believe is impossible - it will do the long AND the short. Great brand campaigns like this often also drive sales, but performance campaigns rarely build a brand.

Finally, agency folk love talking about the craft of an ad. The end execution. And I’ll agree here: you can tell these older women aren’t actually speeding down the hill on sleds. However, the real craft is how effortlessly inclusive this ad is. It doesn’t patronize or really make it part of the story. It’s addressing a genuine human truth that many people of all ages can feel left out this time of year. Connecting human truths to brand truths is literally the craft of strategy.

So, when you’re getting your office Secret Santa gift in a few weeks, remember one thing: marketers don’t need turkeys for Christmas; they need robust data and insights.

Disagree with Andrew? Be sure to let him know on his LinkedIn here.

Creative Creative Works Christmas

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