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Watch The Most Moving Festive Global Ads From 2019 – And Bring a Hanky

The festive period is an emotional time for a lot of people around the world.

And this year’s holiday season promises to be no different. Sure, 2020 is unlike any other year in living history, while many of us look likely to spend Christmas under some kind of lockdown.

But for a lot of people around the globe, the holiday season will provide a much-needed break from the day-to-day ravages of the pandemic. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, after all.

For advertisers, this has certainly presented a dilemma. How do they create campaigns that will make people get into the festive spirit, while also recognizing that is not your average Yuletide celebration?

Well, to help and to also get people into the festive spirit, we’ve looked back at last year’s holiday period for inspiration. We have compiled all of the last year’s festive ads from around the world and ranked them by emotional engagement using our content testing tool, UnrulyEQ.

Ads were ranked on the intensity of emotional response, taking into account the norm levels of emotional response in each market to give a fair global comparison.

Surprisingly, top of the list is not a blockbuster ad from the so-called kings of ‘sadvertising’, John Lewis, or one of Apple’s tear-jerking campaigns, but an ad from a Swedish children’s charity called Bris (Child Rights Sweden).

“When Children Open Up, There Is Hope”, created by agency Volt, is a campaign that shows children ringing Bris’ helpline during the Xmas period to share their problems.

The ad topped our festive chart after generating twice as much emotional engagement as the average Swedish ad. It’s also 15 times sadder than the Swedish norm.

That put it just ahead of UK retailer Very’s ”Get More Out Of Giving” and another Swedish ad, this time from home improvement chain and mail-order firm, Clas Ohlson, in joint second.

Both Very’s animated ad, which tells the story of a community coming together to give Sidney, a lonely man, a Christmas he’ll never forget, and Clas Ohlson’s spot, which celebrates the people who really make Xmas happen, generated exactly twice as much emotional engagement as the average ad in their respective countries.

In fourth was Apple’s much celebrated campaign, “The Surprise”, which generated an intense emotional reaction from 62% of viewers, making it 98.7% more moving than the US average. The tech giant’s festive offering has become one of the most highly-anticipated releases of the Yuletide period. And 2019’s offering was one of their best, combining fantastic storytelling with a real emotional gut punch of a finale.

John Lewis & Waitrose’s heartfelt campaign “Excitable Edgar” also roars in at number five after being 90% more moving than the UK average. Other brands to make our list of the most moving festive ads from 2019 include: Sainsbury’s, Dog’s Trust, Nutella, Amazon and Asda.

Watch them all (below), if you dare. Just bring some hankies.

Unruly’s Global Chart Of The Most Moving Festive Campaigns 2019
Rank Territory Brand Campaign Emotional engagement (% above regional norm) 


1. SW Bris When Children Open Up, There Is Hope +106% 
=2. UK Very Get More Out of Giving +100% 
=2. SW Clas Ohlson  Julkampanj +100% 
4. US Apple The Surprise +99% 
5. UK John Lewis & Waitrose #ExcitableEdgar +90% 
6. UK Barbour Thanks, Mrs C +85% 
7. UK Sainsbury’s Nick The Sweep +84% 
=8. UK Tesco #DeliveringChristmas +80% 
=8 UK Asda Make Christmas Special +80% 
=8. UK Dog’s Trust Dog For Life +80% 
11. DE Amazon Everybody Needs Somebody +80% 
12. UK McDonald’s #ReindeerReady +75% 
13 DE Nutella Merry Christmas 2019 +72% 
=15. UK Aldi Leafy Blinders +55% 
=15. UK Visa #WhereYouShopMatters +55% 


We tested all these ads using our content measurement tool UnrulyEQ, which uses a combination of audience panels, facial coding and machine learning to measure viewers’ emotional responses to advertising. The results were then compared to Unruly’s database of thousands of ads to see which ads generated the highest levels of shock among viewers.

UnrulyEQ is a product suite which delivers higher emotional impact and better business outcomes for advertisers using the power of video.

Click here to find out more.