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Who won the Christmas advert race?

One of the earliest signs that the Christmas season is underway is the debut of the Christmas adverts. Once just a way of maximising revenues in the most important part of the year, Christmas ads are now a major cultural event, and as a result, present a major reputational opportunity for retail brands.

2023 is no different, with an extravaganza of seasonal campaign showcases, and plenty of money spent. Almost all the major brands have delivered, with several changes of direction - not least Coca-Cola, which shook things up from its classic ‘holidays are coming’ format. But for all that money spent, which of the adverts have performed best?

Before we delve into the data, it should be noted that Iceland has decided not to produce an advert this year, instead using the money to cut prices in store in order to support its customers with the cost of living crisis.

We assessed ‘popularity scores’ for each advert from a range of search providers, and overlaid them with measures of social engagement, sentiment and media coverage, to find out which brands ‘sleighed’, and which were soggier than leftover sprouts.

The [Turkey] crown goes to... John Lewis

It will come as no surprise to anyone that John Lewis’s ‘The Snapper’ has topped the list for 2023. Years of turning out excellent, heartstring-tugging campaigns has made John Lewis the indisputable champion of the Christmas ad, and even before its release on 9 November, interest and anticipation in the advert had started to rise [Google Trends data].

John Lewis mentions by source

As well as blowing other brands out of the water with media mentions - outlet volume reached 815,000 mentions in a single day - social mentions reached a record high. By far the most engagement came from X/Twitter, with 603k tweets on launch day alone. In comparison, the next highest is 30,000 which really demonstrates John Lewis’s dominance.

In second place… Aldi

Aldi mentions by source

As the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don’t fix it". Aldi has embraced that and stuck with its ‘Adventures of Kevin the Carrot’ series for another year. Thematically tying it to the expected blockbuster movie ‘Wonka’ has certainly been a winning move.

Media mentions on launch day weren’t in the same league as John Lewis, but still saw Aldi capture a reasonable share of voice, with 340,000 mentions across a broad range of media. X was again the top conversation platform, with the advert attracting a whopping 30,000 mentions in a single day.

Aldi scored a relatively comparable sentiment rate to John Lewis, which suggests that Kevin the Carrot continues to amuse and delight UK shoppers.

John Lewis (L) vs Aldi (R) sentiment rates

Third place… Asda

Asda kicked off the 2023 advert season with a bang, initially achieving huge volumes of coverage and social mentions, helpfully boosted by a celebrity collaboration with Michael Buble.

Asda mentions by source

However, Asda launched the ‘teaser’ for its campaign on 1 November, and struggled to maintain momentum against other stories, like Aldi’s Kevin. A massive uptick in initial conversation saw 120,000 media mentions in a single day, but there was a significant drop off, with a relatively paltry 45,000 mentions on the actual release day followed by a bit of a flatline. 

And it’s coal in the stocking for… Argos

Argos mentions by source

Never really known for its adverts, the Argos Christmas campaign is perfectly serviceable. But, next to celebrity appearances, heart-warming narratives and vast budgets, Argos was never going to compete without considerable effort.

And, if we look at the stats, it’s clear that the public don’t feel like it has put its best foot forward. With a rather damp 19,000 media mentions and near silence on social media, Argos definitely falls to the bottom of our list. Perhaps we’ll see better things next year…

Christmas adverts are undeniably now a major cultural part of the festive build-up, but finding a winning formula is not all that easy. Celebrity collaborations and short-film style narratives both seem to attract consumer attention, but more than ever, it seems that a big budget is essential to standing out from the crowd in the Christmas advert race. Whether or not ad success translates into success on the bottom line is still unclear, but what we do know is that John Lewis is still the one to beat.


We used Google Trends, Bard and Answer the Public to qualify which adverts achieved the highest and lowest ‘popularity’ score (1st-30th November), based on search and digital mentions. We cross-checked this data with social engagement figures on each brands’ own channels. ‘Popular’ here is volume-based and provides no insight into consumer perception. 

We overlaid that insight with Meltwater data that looked at media coverage and social engagement, and provided a sentiment analysis, again in a time period of 1st November to 30th November.

The brands with the highest sentiment, media and social coverage were thus deemed to be the ‘top’ christmas adverts for the year. The brand with the lowest scores came last on our list. 


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