M&S wins 2021’s Christmas ad battle

Who's won 2021's Christmas Ad battle? We asked consumers to rate this year's biggest ads to find out which is at the top of the tree.

Put up the tree: check ✅

Stock up the fridge with things you can’t eat until Christmas Day: check ✅

Tune into this year’s festive TV ads: check ✅

TV ads have become a Christmas staple in the UK. Trailblazing efforts for Christmases past from John Lewis led the way for all the major retailers to dazzle us with increasingly cinematic festive storytelling.

And this year’s ads are no exception!

Last year’s ads catered to a new need: shoppers whose Christmases were disrupted due to the pandemic. But in 2021, with most shops open and (so far) Christmas as we know it back on the cards, retailers are keen to tempt shoppers back instore – or online at least.

To find out which retailers’ ads does the best to encourage people to buy, we surveyed nationally representative groups of 250 Brits. We asked them to watch and then rate Christmas ads from Aldi, Amazon, Boots, John Lewis and M&S.

Which ad makes shoppers more likely to spend?

For each ad we asked consumers whether, after seeing the ad, they’re more or less likely to shop with that retailer.

M&S took the Christmas #1 spot! Almost two thirds (65.5%) said they’re either slightly or much more likely to shop there because of the ad. Here’s how that compares to the other ads we asked about:

  • M&S – 65.5%
  • Aldi – 63.6%
  • Boots – 58.2%
  • Amazon – 47.6%
  • John Lewis – 40.2%

Our consumers felt their ad, in which Percy Pig discovers the magic of Christmas for the first time aided by a Dawn French-voiced fairy, really captured the fun of the festive period.

In fact consumers said ‘fun’ was the top word they’d use to describe M&S’s ad – 64.3% chose this. In comparison ‘heartwarming’ came top for all of the other ads we asked about. Take a look at our dashboard to see what people thought about M&S’s Christmas ad.

Aldi’s ad came a close second, with 63.6% of Brits more likely to shop with them after seeing their ad. For 2021 Aldi brought back much-loved Kevin the Carrot, this time in a foody retelling of A Christmas Carol.

While M&S pipped Aldi to the buyer conversion post, Aldi’s ad got the highest overall rating from our consumers. An impressive 45.6% gave it a 5/5 rating – 10 percentage points higher than the next highest 5/5 rating, which Boots achieved with 35.6% giving it top marks.

John Lewis’s Christmas ad misses the mark

Every year the most hotly anticipated Christmas ad comes from John Lewis. They’ve set the tone for Christmas ads in recent years with their winning combinations of emotive narratives, endearing characters and heartwarming soundtracks. But have consumers grown tired of this combination?

Our data would suggest so. Of the five ads we surveyed about, it’s John Lewis’s Unexpected Guest ad that’s least likely to entice shoppers – just 40.2% said the ad inclined them to shop there. Have a closer look at how people rate John Lewis’s ad.

Could fun Christmas ads be the new winning formula? While 62.7% of people found the Unexpected Guest ad ‘heartwarming’, only 23.7% thought it was ‘fun’. Overall, here’s how how many Brits described each ad as ‘fun’:

  • M&S – 64.3%
  • Aldi – 59.6%
  • Boots – 41%
  • John Lewis – 23.7%
  • Amazon – 12%

Amazon’s ad, which highlighted the importance of community and kindness at Christmas may not have been deemed the most fun by our consumers, but they chose it as the top ‘heartwarming’ ad:

  • Amazon – 65.2%
  • John Lewis – 62.7%
  • Boots – 64.7%
  • Aldi – 63.2%
  • M&S – 57.8%

Although Amazon’s ad has emerged as the most heartwarming, something about it clearly hasn’t resonated enough with consumers to encourage them to shop there. As our research shows, a fun ad seems to be what it takes to encourage consumers to splurge this Christmas.

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Marcus Evans

Content Marketing Manager 

See all articles by Marcus