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This is a self-funded case study using our Ad Testing solution.
There’s something undeniably magical about the advertising extravaganza we’re treated to each festive season; it’s the one time of year the public is genuinely excited about (and eagerly anticipates) new campaign releases. In a world where consumers are largely apathetic and indifferent toward brands and advertising, it truly is a season like none other!
But, in the rush to test ads and separate the wheat from the chaff, what quickly gets lost is the theory and ‘science’ behind what makes an ad effective. In particular, we’ve seen marketers grow increasingly skeptical toward the idea that “emotion” and “happiness” are the be-all and end-all of advertising success.
To be clear, emotion (and standing out) is a prerequisite; advertising which doesn’t enter people’s mental headspace is consigned to being ineffectual. But from there, two other (equally important) things must happen:
Our framework has been built upon these rigorous theoretical underpinnings, distilling the factors for success into a simple and intuitive framework — the 3Cs:
Captivate: Be emotive; stand out and grab attention.
Connect: Be recognizable; synergize with expectations.
Compel: Be motivating; drive behavioral change.
We produce a one number composite metric (the Cubery Rating) which equally weights the 3Cs, providing a robust and transparent prediction of effectiveness. You can read more about our framework here.
Without further ado, we’re delighted to share the rankings for Australia.
Merry Christmas! 🎅
Cubery Rating: 73 (+19 vs. 2021)
Target absolutely hit the bullseye this year, jumping from the bottom baubles in 2021 to the top of the tree in 2022. Featuring a diverse range of characters, Target celebrated the gift of giving in a way which struck a chord with viewers. The brand remained front and center throughout the happy and warm-hearted execution, with the concept fitting well with people’s expectations of the down-to-earth retailer. The promotion of a wide range of gifting options came through clearly, with the overall theme found highly credible and relevant. This laddered up to both favorability toward the brand, together with giving people a motivating reason for choosing Target this Christmas.
“It’s very relatable, covers a lot of common scenarios across all walks of life.”
Cubery Rating: 69 (+7 vs. 2021)
Carrying on from their 2021 Christmas spectacular, 2022’s 'Make Someone Happy' saw Michael Hill continue the story of our favorite junior Casanova and the courtship of his childhood crush. While the slower paced narrative and soft soundtrack meant the ad engaged viewers in a more passive way (particularly compared to some other campaigns this Christmas), viewers were nonetheless thoroughly engaged by the story, finding the romantic quest highly enjoyable. The resolving scene featuring the now grown-up pair of love birds built favorability toward the jewelry retailer, again highlighting that rational benefits and claims aren’t a prerequisite for success.
“Very sentimental and romantic, I like how they incorporated the jewellery naturally into the story.”
Cubery Rating: 68 (+12 vs. 2021)
'Christmas Made Special for Locals' represented the continuation of a long-running campaign platform for IGA, with the 2022 installment hitting the highest mark ever for the grocery retailer. While the idea wasn’t groundbreaking — and it didn’t wow audiences or take their breath away — this didn’t mean it wasn’t likeable, with the friendly atmosphere and community-centric focus striking a chord with viewers. Narration by actor and comedian Shane Jacobson meant the brand wasn’t ever far from the spotlight. The continued use of this enviable asset (together with an established campaign theme) is a testament to the cumulative goodwill possible through adopting a relentlessly consistent approach.
“I liked the way the shop keeper commented on how far she was running, it made it seem like she was a part of the local community.”
Cubery Rating: 67 (+9 vs. 2021)
Coles saw a significant lift in performance in 2022, delivering a more distinctive and likeable story. For many, the concept of a Christmas table stretching across the country perfectly symbolized the spirit of the festive season — particularly with us now entering a post-COVID era. While it’s true that the theme could’ve easily been mistaken for any other number of food retailers, ambassador Curtis Stone’s appearance always provides a decisive cue. Combined with him being armed with a delectable cooked ham, it helped carry over a sense of happiness and warmth to the Coles brand, along with reinforcing the retailer’s credentials as a one-stop destination for putting on an appetizing Christmas spread.
“That families, no matter how big or small are coming together for the first time this Christmas after all the lockdowns. It was a happy atmosphere and Coles certainly delivered on all the food needed.”
Cubery Rating: 66 (+2 vs. 2021)
Following three consecutive years atop our Christmas rankings, Australia Post achieved another personal best result in 2022. However, the pioneering path set with its 'Spread the Merry' platform has encouraged others to attempt emulating the brand’s success, subsequently resulting in much stiffer competition this year. 2022’s installment saw the curious journey of a giant inflatable Santa, with viewers amused by the various locations he visited, along with being intrigued to find out what his eventual fate would be. Featuring an Australia Post delivery truck in one of the earlier scenes provided a subtle but clearly received nod to the brand, with these subliminal cues helping frame people’s memories around the advertiser. The resolution which sees the family reunited with their much-loved decoration thanks to Australia Post ultimately filled viewers with warmth toward the national carrier.
“I liked everything about the ad. Watching Santa go on his journey. My favourite part was seeing him reunited with the family. I just think that is so cute and fun!”
Cubery Rating: 66 (+8 vs. 2021)
After a playful animated spot in 2021, Officeworks threw away the storybook in 2022, instead adopting a heavily product-centric approach — emphasizing the meaning behind gift giving. However, lacking any of the character development or festive storytelling from years gone past meant the emotional response was flat. But this only tells part of the story. Where this year’s spot excelled was spotlighting typically Officeworks products in an undeniably Officeworks way. And it’s this part of the creativity vs. effectiveness jigsaw puzzle which often gets overlooked. The blue backdrop, red ribbon, and familiar typography cemented Officeworks’ top of mind status as a gifting destination.
“I like the use of christmas presents to showcase what officeworks has to offer.”
Cubery Rating: 63 (+3 vs. 2021)
Proving just how well ‘fresh food’ sentiment is intertwined with the Woolworths brand, 'Get Your Woolies Worth' was remarkably well branded — despite the brand being far less visually present than its IGA counterpart. Instead, the joyful narrative of a woman being transported back to her younger years, picking fresh mangoes with her family, provided enough cues to help people link the ad back to Woolies. The ample green spaces and folksy soundtrack also fitted well with people’s expectations of the grocery chain. As a result, the passive but likeable execution easily transferred festive warmth and positivity onto the Woolworths brand.
“Very much fits in with the “fresh food people” image Woolworths wishes to convey, in a pleasant quiet manner.”
Cubery Rating: 63 (+11 vs. 2021)
While no Hollywood blockbuster, Kmart’s 'Low Prices For Life' provides a case study of how advertising can be effective without containing all the creative bells and whistles. The premise was simple; feature a diverse range of people happily dancing to an upbeat song, while wearing colorful, festive clothing. Splice in some references to low prices, and wa-lah! — out comes an unmistakably Kmart execution. While the brand’s 2021 execution, 'All Kinds of Christmas', was an emotional rollercoaster, 2022’s more conservative approach better-aligned with Kmart brand. The simple, happy, and upbeat style was effective at conveying Kmart’s core proposition.
“It was keeping with the Kmart brand and good placement of products.”
Cubery Rating: 61 (-3 vs. 2021)
Much like their highly captivating 2021 execution, 2022’s installment of 'You Can’t Overcook Christmas' proved just as attention grabbing — but unfortunately in a much less likeable way. ALDI’s consistent use of quirky, irreverent humor has fast become an entrenched asset for the brand in the Australian marketplace. However, this time people found the story of two Christmas guests engaged in an excessively prolonged battle to palm off the last prawn highly irritating. Ultimately, though, while the grating story failed to strongly drive emotional affinity toward the retailer, the approach certainly worked to reinforce that ALDI does things differently to the major grocery chains.
“I love Aldi and normally would like their ads but this one I find too busy and hard to understand.”
Cubery Rating: 60 (+8 vs. 2021)
Myer’s scattergun approach to their Christmas advertising continued in 2022, following up the brand’s more humorous piece in 2021 with a high energy interpretive dance about spicing up the gift-wrapping process. Positively, the brand seems to have landed upon a distinctive approach through the use of visually striking choreography and a unique soundtrack, eliciting feelings of excitement. However, the ad also drew some negativity, with almost a quarter of people commenting that it was annoying and irritating. Without a consistent campaign platform to build upon the ad ultimately lacked synergy with perceptions of Myer, limiting its ability to build cumulative brand impacts over time.
“I liked the music and dancing visuals. I thought the message the advert was conveying was a little unclear.”
Cubery Rating: 60 (+7 vs. 2021)
David Jones’ 'A World of Wonder' was a rare example of an Australian Christmas ad leveraging the power of celebrity, with the brand attempting to reinforce its standing as a premium, high-end retailer. The nature of the celebrities used meant the ad didn’t command viewers’ attention in the same way as some of the higher profile names employed by the UK’s heavy hitters. However, their presence within the sophisticated garden party setting still undoubtedly fit with expectations of David Jones. The stylish individuals in stylish attire, situated in exclusive surroundings, all acted as identifiable cues back to the brand.
“The trimmed hedges and well-dressed people fitted well with an upmarket Christmas. I liked it.”
Cubery Rating: 55 (+2 vs. 2021)
As one of the quirkier ideas of 2022, Big W’s 'Make a Little Magic' unfortunately didn’t deliver as hoped. Centered around a boy blessed (or cursed) with magical hands that turn everything Christmassy, the ad struggled to take people along for the journey. While some resonated with the humor of particular elements or scenes (particularly the family dog’s transformation into Rudolph), the brand ultimately lacked a clear role within the story. By preferencing the season ahead of the brand, Big W were ultimately left without a clear voice in the cluttered Christmas market.
“I liked the concept that someone has the "Christmas" touch but it took me quite a while to work out that this was the concept.”
Cubery Rating: 54 (New in 2022)
TK Maxx went out with all guns blazing for their first ever Australian Christmas campaign, delivering a highly attention-grabbing festive spot. The ad reworked the classic Christmas jingle ‘Carol of the Bells’ to let every man and his dog know that Simon is, in fact, here. However, the earworm led to the ad eliciting almost five times the level of annoyance we’d typically expect to see. With the brand’s relative obscurity in the market, we commend the new kids on the block for going all out in an effort to stand out this Christmas. However, this example provides a timely reminder that all these efforts can be futile if the ad doesn’t end on an emotional high.
“It's pretty overwhelming. I had no idea what it was really for.”