Great Ormond St and Sainsbury's nab top 10 spots in final Unruly ranking

Disney and Coca-Cola retain their places at the top of the list of the most emotionally engaging Christmas ads.

Clockwise from top left: Disney, Coca-Cola, Great Ormond Street, Sainsbury's
Clockwise from top left: Disney, Coca-Cola, Great Ormond Street, Sainsbury's

Disney’s festive spot, “From our family to yours”, has topped the third and final instalment of Unruly’s emotional response ranking.

The research, which measured the emotional responses of UK consumers across 66 ads, found that Disney’s Christmas ad garnered an intense positive emotional response from 45.1% of viewers.

Created in-house by Disney, the ad follows the bond between grandmother Lola and her granddaughter who share a mutual love for a stuffed Mickey Mouse toy.

Coca-Cola’s Taiko Waititi-directed ad “The letter” earned second spot with an intense positive emotional response from 43.5% of viewers, followed by newcomer Great Ormond Street Hospital’s “Home for Christmas” (40.0%), Lego’s “And I think to myself” (38.9%) and Aldi’s E.T.-inspired spot (38.2%).

Amazon ranked sixth with “The show must go on” – which stars French ballerina Taïs Vinolo as an up-and-coming dancer and gained an intense positive emotional response from 38% of viewers – while Sainsbury’s “Gravy song” (37.7%), DFS (37.0%), Not On The High Street (36.3%) and Argos (36.0%) rounded off the top 10.

“People are clearly in the mood for high-budget, epic storytelling this festive period,” Rebecca Waring, global vice-president of insights at Unruly, said.

Waring added that Covid-19 references and serious tones are not resonating well with customers.

The positive reaction to Sainsbury’s ad, by Wieden & Kennedy, stands in contrast to the racist backlash it received on social media from some viewers for its depiction of a black father and daughter discussing their Christmas traditions.

Waring said: “It was heartening to see Sainsbury's, one of this year's most distinctive creative executions, score so highly.

“Our data shows that when testing against a nationally representative sample, negative responses are negligible, and this was one of the most moving ads of Christmas 2020.”

Last year, Very's "Pass the parcel" was ranked the UK’s most emotionally engaging Christmas ad, with John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners' "Excitable Edgar" claiming second spot.

Although John Lewis and Waitrose’s “Give a little love” made it in to the top 10 in the previous instalment of Unruly's ranking, it failed to make the final cut – as did other major campaigns from brands such as Tesco and McDonald's.