Adwatch of the Year: Find out the public's favourite ads of 2015

From Sainsbury's and John Lewis though to Sky and ComparetheMarket.com, Marketing, in association with Ebquity and TNS, reveals the ads that have caught the attention of the nation this year.

Adwatch of the Year: Find out the public's favourite ads of 2015

Although Sainsbury’s seasonal advertising revolved around a ‘Christmas Calamity’, Mog the cat has proved far from calamitous for the retailer.  

Jump to the Adwatch of the Year tables

In Marketing’s poll of the best-liked Christmas retail commercials, Mog has come out on top, beating John Lewis and Aldi into second and third place respectively – although it scores surprisingly poorly in terms of pure recall (an Adwatch score of just 32% compared to John Lewis’ 60%)

Adwatch of the Year charts 2015’s 20 best-recalled TV brands, the ten most memorable individual commercials and the best-liked advertising, outside of the Christmas ad scrum, that Adwatch has featured throughout 2015.   

Christmas is now the ‘British Super Bowl’ with the festive commercial break a battleground which all brands (and retailers in particular) aspire to conquer

But there’s no doubt about it: Christmas is now the ‘British Super Bowl’ with the festive commercial break a battleground which all brands (and retailers in particular) aspire to conquer. This is why Marketing’s 2015 commentary focuses on the season’s televisual offerings from the ten most significant supermarkets and retailers – and Mog has helped Sainsbury’s claw its way to the top in terms of likeability.

All retailers, driven by the importance of the December sales period, need a Christmas campaign that strikes a chord with the public.  And Adwatch’s Christmas Likeability poll (conducted by TNS among a representative sample of 1000 UK consumers) makes interesting reading.  

Despite impressive recall statistics, boosted no doubt by the now-inevitable hype surrounding its launch, John Lewis’ ‘Man on the moon’ ad received a mixed reception from the industry and from the general public as well. Its Adwatch likeability rating was 41%, six per cent below Mog’s 47% and a full 15% lower than the chain scored last year with Monty the penguin.

Aldi’s ‘My Favourite Things’ campaign, with a likeability score of 39%, is running a close third – and is also one of the three best-remembered Christmas campaigns, along with John Lewis and Tesco.  

Although Tesco – the only campaign featuring celebrities and the second best-recalled – was generally regarded as a toe-curler by advertising commentators, it has proved popular among the general public. It achieved fourth place in the Adwatch likeability leagues with 33%, closely followed by M&S and Boots in joint fifth.  

Surprisingly, Lidl’s School of Christmas, despite being widely admired in the industry, comes in ninth with a mere 27%.  Meanwhile, Morrisons trails in tenth place for the second year running – although this year’s staff bakers and butchers scored higher likeability scores than Ant and Dec managed last year.

Ebiquity UK not only sources the commercials that TNS researches for Adwatch throughout the year but also provides the Adwatch of the Year budget figures.The company’s chief executive officer Morag Blazey says the Sainsbury’s and John Lewis winning likeability results make sense.  

Christmas storytelling

She explains: "They both tell stories evoking the spirit of Christmas, rather than the shopping list of Christmas – and that is important. They are proper stories with a beginning, a middle and an end, and they enable people to empathise and feel involved.  Sainsbury’s did well because of people’s familiarity with, and fondness for, the Mog character – and because the Christmas message at the end is particularly strong."

Both John Lewis and Sainsbury’s have strong charity links, John Lewis to Age UK and Sainsbury’s to Save the Children’s child literacy project.  And with the ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ book on sale instore as a seasonal gift, the Sainsbury’s link is particularly cohesive.

The charity link ties in and is a great opportunity to do some good as a brand, while building brand fame

Craig Mawdsley, chief strategy officer at Sainsbury’s agency AMV BBDO, believes that likeability is crucial for Christmas advertising:  "The best-liked commercials get a PR bounce from editorial coverage and from being shared – and likeability is a huge factor in achieving brand warmth.  The charity link ties in and is a great opportunity to do some good as a brand, while building brand fame, and that is a positive facet which customers really appreciate."  

Blazey adds: "Instinct suggests that well-liked advertising works harder because people are more receptive to the message. Such campaigns can certainly change people’s views of organisations, but only time will tell whether they will prove successful in the marketplace."

John Lewis claims that ‘Man on the moon’ has brought increased seasonal footfall and spend. Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, is not revealing how well Mog’s popularity is translating into sales; we will have to wait for January’s trading update to discover the winners and losers in the annual battle of the supermarket aisles.

Yet despite the pressures, the fight for Christmas hearts, minds and wallets is one that marketers and agencies continue to relish.  As Mawdsley admits:  "A simple, open brief to entertain the nation, with an expectant audience who are actively anticipating your work… how often can we say that about advertising nowadays?"

Best-liked Christmas 2015 ads

#BRANDAGENCY/TV BUYERLIKE ABILITY % RECALL %
1

Sainsbury’s

AMV BBDO/ PHD

47

32

2

John Lewis

Adam & Eve DDB / Manning Gottlieb OMD

41

60

3

Aldi

McCann Manchester / UM Manchester

39

44

4

Tesco

Bartle Bogle Hegarty / Mediacom

33

50

5

Boots

Mother / OMD UK

32

27

5

Marks & Spencer

Rainey Kelly Y&R / Mindshare

32

32

7

Argos

CHI & Partners / Mindshare

29

28

8

Asda

VCCP /  Carat

28

24

9

Lidl

TBWA London / Starcom

27

34

10

Morrisons

DLKW Lowe / MEC

26

23

Best-liked ads of 2015 (not including Christmas ads)

POSITIONBRANDAGENCY/TV BUYERLIKE-ABILITY %LAUNCH DATETHE AD
1

Compare-the-market.com

VCCP/Market.com MEC

51

December 2014

Baby Oleg chooses to stay behind in Africa and start a new life without Aleksandr and Sergei (60")

2

John Lewis

Adam & Eve DDB /

Manning Gottlieb OMD

41 

August 2015

A bespectacled 'Tiny Dancer' endangers precious objects in her home with her performance (90")

3

St John's Ambulance  

Bartle Bogle Hegarty / John Ayling & Associates

40

January 2015

Animated objects give advice on saving a choking child, with various celebrity voiceovers (40")

3

Freeview

Leo Burnett / MEC

40

December 2014

Unsold jumble sale items in an empty hall come to life and sing "I want to know what love is" (60")

5

Sony

DDB Berlin / Mediacom

39

October 2015

Firework displays light up the world to showcase the 4K Ultra HD television (60")

6

Walkers

AMV BBDO / OMD UK

38

March 2015

Gary Lineker eats Mixups from a hospital bed, while his family come to visit and steal the bag (30")

7

Thinkbox

The Red Brick Road / Mediacom

37

January 2015

Harvey the dog's new love Harmony moves in with a string of Harvey-lookalike-puppies (30")

7

Irn-Bru

The Leith Agency / PHD North

37

April 2015

A man is embarrassed when automatic doors open on a train to reveal him sitting on the toilet (30")

9

Ikea

Mother / Vizeum

36

July 2015

Monkeys discover a jungle kitchen.  They clean up the mess they make by hitting a rewind button (60")

9

Virgin Media

Bartle Bogle Hegarty / Manning Gottlieb OMD

36

October 2015

A girl watches videos of inspirational women - including Emmeline Pankhurst - on her tablet (60")

9

Cadbury’s Milk Tray 

Fallon London / PHD

36

October 2015

Cadbury's cashes in on James Bond Fever by inviting applications to be the new Milk Tray Man (30")

Highest brand recall across 2015

#Rank 2014BrandAgencyTV buyer
MentionsPointsTV SpendTotal Ad spend £m*
1 4 Sky TV

WCRS + Brothers & Sisters / Mediacom

81.34 119 119 182.41
2 1 Aldi

McCann Manchester / UM Manchester

17 108 35.33 62.60
3 2 DFS

Krow / Mediacom

19 100 38.68 66.88
4 13 McDonalds

Leo Burnett / OMD UK

17 82 39.69 67.36
5 8 Comparethemarket.com

VCCP / MEC

8 79 30.43 35.57
6 3 Argos

CHI & Partners / Mindshare

12 75 30.58 39.82
7 NA WeBuyAnyCar

Driven / MEC Manchester

9 71 9.00 11.57
8 11 Asda

VCCP / Carat

14 62 41.19

85.70

8 6 Iceland

Karmarama / Mediacom Manchester

9 62 18.98 24.53
10 5 Morrisons

DLKW Lowe / MEC

11 61 20.46 46.90
11 NA

Oak Furniture Land

Equinox TV / MNC

8 55  25.11 25.44
12 NA

National Lottery

AMV BBDO / Vizeum

7 51 19.45 33.73
13 20 BT

AMV BBDO / Maxus

7 43 47.21 116.58
13 12 Tesco

Bartle Bogle Hegarty / Mediacom

10 43 36.38 83.50
15 9 Confused.com

Publicis London / PHD

5 41 18.16 19.55
16 NA Very.co.uk

St Lukes / Amplifi

9 40 14.80  28.63
16 NA Samsung

BBH Sport / Starcom

5 40 20.35 37.70
18 NA Lidl

TBWA London / Starcom

9 39 48.03 78.66
19 NA Thomson Travel

BMB / Mediacom

4 36 4.98 10.27
20 NA British Gas

CHI & Partners / Carat

6 33 19.08 33.59
21 NA Walkers

AMV BBDO / OMD UK

5 33 16.12 17.10
22 NA

PHE Anti-smoking  

M&C Saatchi /  Cara

5 33 5.85 7.23

Highest recall in a single week

#BRANDAGENCY/TV BUYERRECALL%LAUNCH DATETV SPEND     ADSPEND £m*AD NAME
1 Compare-themarket.com

VCCP/ Zenith Optimedia

75 Dec 2014 30.43 35.57 Oleg the baby meerkat stays behind in Africa to start a new life (60")
2 Sky TV

WCRS/Mediacomr

67 Aug 2015 81.34 182.41 ‘Inside Out’ movie promotion offering a year’s free Superfast Sky Fibre broadband(40")
3 Gocompare

In-house + Chris & Sian Wilkins/Carat

63 Aug 2015 17.67 21.18 Gio Compario returns to the excitement of his many eagerly-waiting fans (60")
4 Premier Inn

Rainey Kelly Y&R/OMD UK

60 April 2015 13.90 14.39 Lenny Henry sleeps and snores in a bed at various locations, from a beach to a railway station (30")
4 Morrisons

DLKW Lowe/MEC

60 Dec 2014 20.46 46.90 Ant & Dec promote a Christmas-themed offer on beef (10")
4 John Lewis

Adam & Eve DDB/Manning Gottlieb OMD

60 Nov 2015 6.88 20.37 An elderly ‘man on the moon’ gets a Christmas surprise.  In association with Age UK (90")
7 McDonalds

Leo Burnett/OMD UK

57 June 2015 39.69 67.36 A couple’s unsuccessful date is put behind them at McDonalds where they order the same meal (60")
8 Warburtons

WCRS/Mindshare

56 April 2015 8.13

8.80

Sylvester Stallone  offers to star as a Warburtons employee in a movie (90")
9 Aldi

McCann Manchester/UM Manchester

55  Jan 2015 35.33 62.60 A grizzly bear compares brands of toilet paper (20")
10 Confused.com

Publicis London/PHD

54 Feb 2015 18.16 19.55 Customers buying car or home insurance through Confused.com get a free Brian toy (10")
10

Carphone Warehouse

Brothers & Sisters/Blue 449

54 Aug 2015  6.13 17.36 Keith Lemon’s American journey shows how far behind the US is in terms of mobile devices (30")
10

Alzheimers Society

Fallon/M2M

54 Feb 2015 2.65 4.02 A man with dementia feels isolated as his family enjoys a meal together (40")

Methodology

Adwatch was conducted on behalf of Marketing by TNS among a representative sample of 1000 UK consumers, with the ads sourced by Ebiquity.

Adspend data supplied by Ebiquity. TV adspend is from Dec 2014 to Nov 2015. Total adspend includes:  press, TV, radio & online display from Dec 2014 to Nov 2015 and Outdoor, DM & Cinema from Nov 2014 – Oct  2015. 

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