4 min read

Do Christmas adverts affect digital performance?

Christmas adverts have started to appear on TV, which means the festive season has begun. It seems like more brands than ever have jumped on the Christmas ad bandwagon this year, so we thought we would see who has seen digital success so far. 

We watched a lot of Christmas ads (for work, promise) and picked out some of the most popular ones that have been released this year. We did a little digging to see if they have seen an uplift in searches or brand activity since being released, to see if a festive advert makes a difference to search activity. 

1. John Lewis & Partners

Starting off with possibly the most anticipated Christmas ad of the year, the offering from John Lewis & Partners this year comes in the form of a cute little dragon named Edgar and his human friend. As usual with John Lewis Christmas, the giving of a gift solves everything and leads to a happy ending.


Swedish flat-pack furniture giant IKEA’s Christmas ad isn’t your typical heartwarming story. A quirky cast of toys and ornaments narrate the shortcomings of a family’s house, prompting them to make a visit to IKEA for some home improvements. Using the song ‘Fresh N Clean (Silence The Critics)’ by D Double E, it provides a bit more comedy than some of the other Christmas ads. 

3. Argos

The Argos Christmas ad has taken their trusty catalogue and rebranded it ‘The Book of Dreams’. A little girl circling the drumkit she would like for Christmas leads to a huge father-daughter drum concert set to ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ by Simple Minds, complete with cheering crowd and confetti cannons. 

4. Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s have gone down the classic Victorian Christmas route this year, with their ad featuring Nicholas the Sweep and a message of Christmas kindness. The ad also heavily implies that Nicholas goes on to become Father Christmas after gifting his fellow orphan sweeps a satsuma and putting his master on the naughty list with a lump of coal.

5. Aldi

Kevin the Carrot returns once again this year in the Aldi Christmas advert. With influences from Peaky Blinders and The Greatest Showman, it’s an all-singing, all-dancing show with another happy ending for Kevin and his friends and a rewritten Robbie Williams classic, Let Me Entertain You. 

6. Lidl

Lidl have stripped it back this year for their Christmas advert, showcasing all the good things about the festive period. The Lidl ad focuses on the real-life Christmas experience, with cold nights, mulled wine, Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and spending time with loved ones creating a relatable and familiar story. 

7. Joules

Joules have teamed up with Aardman this year with an advert featuring Wallace and Gromit getting ready for Christmas. Wallace uses his quirky inventions to get his living room ready for Christmas, using Joules products to decorate, and ropes in Gromit as the fairy tree topper. 

8. Marks and Spencer

The M&S Christmas clothing advert this year gives centre stage to a winter staple – the jumper. Once wearing a jumper, it’s impossible for people to resist dancing to House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’. After the need to dance spreads through living rooms, offices, pubs and cars, people take to the streets for an after-hours dance party. 

9. Walkers

Walkers have weighed in this year with an advert featuring the Queen of Christmas – Mariah Carey. Their “too good to share” angle is emphasised by a standoff between Mariah Carey and an elf over the last bag of Walkers pigs in blankets flavour crisps, which she wins with the help of one of her trademark high notes. 

10. McDonald’s

A little girl plays “reindeers” in the McDonald’s Christmas advert this year. Part animated, part live-action, the story of Ellie and Archie the Reindeer (revealed to be the family dog) has a cute message of kindness and togetherness over the festive period – as well as plenty of McNuggets. 

When do Christmas adverts start?

The 2019 Christmas adverts started being released in November, however, some were brought out as early as October. With this in mind, we looked at some year on year search data from October, November and December of the past three years to see if there were any increases in brand name searches that would correlate with the release of the Christmas ads.

Do Christmas adverts affect branded searches?

We looked at the data for these ten Christmas adverts to see if there had been any difference in branded search activity that could be linked to their release. We found that in the past three years, the biggest increase in the average interest percentage happened between October and November. Similarly, when looking at average MSV for these brand names, there is a clear spike in searches between the same two months. As Christmas adverts typically start being released in mid-November, they could certainly have played a part in these jumps in brand interest. 

One of the biggest success stories of the ten Christmas ads that we looked at was Walkers, who actually saw a huge 55.6% increase in monthly searches from October 2019 to November 2019. Although, as Walkers isn’t known for its online e-commerce platform (or even physical stores) in the same way as brands like John Lewis and Sainsbury’s are, it’s unlikely that these searches directly translated into sales for the brand. But if brand awareness was what they’re going for, we can see a definite uplift! 

However, we can also see a steady decline in the number of searches over the past couple of years for many brands. For example, the search term “John Lewis” has seen an 18.18% decrease in MSV in November 2019 compared to November 2018, with Argos, M&S, Joules and Sainsbury’s seeing decline as well. Maybe releasing a Christmas advert isn’t as effective digitally as it has been in the past – has it become more entertainment than marketing strategy?

What’s your favourite Christmas advert this year?

Do you have a favourite Christmas ad? Let us know! Tweet us @honcho_search or get in touch on Instagram or LinkedIn to share your thoughts. Like keeping up with the latest news and industry updates? Sign up to our newsletter!

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