Christmas Ads Twice As Likely To Make You Cry, Smile And Feel Nostalgic 

Our new research finds festive campaigns are much more moving than other ads

We all know that Christmas is an emotional time of the year. But it’s not just family overtime, schmaltzy movies and fights over the Christmas Day washing-up that make the Yuletide period such an emotional rollercoaster. 

Festive ads also play their part in making the Christmas holidays a particularly emotional time for a lot of people around the world.  According to our new research, Christmas ads are much more likely to make people smile, feel nostalgic or reach for the tissues to wipe away the tears.

Our new study, which analysed ads shown in the UK from the last five years, looked into the effect Christmas ads have on viewers and how they compare with ad campaigns released during the rest of the calendar year. The research found that: 

  • Christmas ads are twice as likely to make you cry, with the levels of sadness people felt after watching 100% more intense than the average ad;
  • Festive ads are also much more likely to make you smile, with consumers 86% more likely to feel intense happiness after watching compared with the average ad;
  • Watching Christmas ads are also more more likely to melt your heart, with intense feelings of warmth 117% higher than ads during the rest of the calendar year; 
  • Consumers are also twice as likely to come away after watching a festive ad feeling nostalgic than they would do at any other time of year;
  • Ads during the Yuletide period are also much more likely to leave you in a positive mood. Consumers watching Christmas ads on average report a 35% increase in intense positive emotions compared with the average;
  • Of the 9 primary emotions measured by UnrulyEQ (happiness, amazement, exhilaration, warmth, hilarity, pride, sadness, nostalgia and inspiration), only one, exhilaration, was lower than average for Christmas ads. 

Our Global VP, Insight & Solutions, Rebecca Waring said: “Christmas is a special time of year a time when we are more likely to think with our hearts than our heads. And if you ever needed confirmation of that, you only need to look at our data, which shows a clear spike in emotions during the festive period.

“Boosted by the emergence of the John Lewis Christmas ad, which has become a fixture in the Yuletide calendar, Christmas commercials certainly play their part. For brands, this means there’s no greater opportunity to make an emotional connection with their audiences as long as they create the right content.”

Such a surge in emotion during the Christmas period is good news for marketers, with a number of studies suggesting that emotional ad campaigns are much more likely to drive positive business outcomes. 

Research from the IPA revealed that emotional ad campaigns are more effective and more profitable than rational ad campaigns, while a Nielsen study found that ads with above-average EEG scores delivered a 23% lift in sales volume. 

And this is certainly true of festive ads, which on average were more likely to have an impact on business metrics and long-term ROI.

Our research also found that the rate of people expressing an interest in buying products (purchase intent) is 13% higher for Christmas ads than other ads. Consumers are also 7% more likely to share Christmas ads, while brand value is also 13% higher.

But for advertisers, the importance of emotions doesn’t just stop at the creative. Using precision programmatic buys, marketers can now target Christmas shoppers most likely to be emotionally engaged by their creatives, significantly improving the success and efficiency of their campaigns. 

Where they watch the campaign can also have an impact. A recent study by News UK and the London School of Economics found that people who had read an emotional piece of content – whether positive or negative – and then interacted with a video advert were 45% more likely to view the whole ad.  Meanwhile, a study conducted by Unruly found that by placing ads next to editorial articles that elicit similar emotions can boost video completion rates by up to 77%.

We have created Christmas private marketplaces (PMPs), which allow programmatic buyers to buy inventory on websites that match the festive mood of the creative to the environment around it. Marketers can also place their ads next to contextually-relevant articles which include keywords or phrases such as ‘Black Friday’, ‘Christmas shopping’ and ‘Christmas gifts’.

Waring added: “Emotions play a massive part in the decisions we make every single day, so anything advertisers can do to dial up those emotions can make all the difference to whether their campaigns end up as Christmas crackers or festive turkeys. At Unruly we combine the speed and efficiency of programmatic with in-depth research on consumer behaviour and emotions to ensure that brands get the right content in front of the right people at just the right time.”

Click here to discover our Christmas offering.