Which Ads Are Consumers Talking About This Holiday Season and Why

By December 15, 2014 Analysis No Comments

With only a few weeks to go until Christmas, Dick’s Sporting Goods has captured the hearts of the U.S. viewing audience – and the largest proportion of holiday ad conversation on social media. We sampled social media conversations across Twitter, blogs and forums to learn which ads consumers were responding to and why.

So far, Dick’s Sporting Goods’ “Gifts That Matter” campaign is far and away the most discussed holiday ad, capturing nearly 20% of all relevant campaign conversation. It appears that fathers have been touched by Dick’s ability to succinctly capture the essence of fatherhood with minimal dialogue, and through the lens of an unlikely foil: a basketball hoop.

The next two most discussed campaigns belong to British brands: retailers John Lewis (11.9% of conversation) and Sainsbury’s (8.6% of conversation).

John Lewis’ ‘Monty the Penguin’ spot, and its 18 million YouTube views tallied in only a month, have it poised for social media stardom. Consumers can’t resist cute animals, especially when combined with a romantic storyline.

Sainsbury’s took a different tack, resurfacing the story of British and German World War I soldiers who set down their weapons and exchanged gifts on Christmas day in 1914. Consumers appreciated the historical significance, and the cinematography created a poignancy many consumers commented on via social channels.

Conversation about U.S. brands beyond Dick’s Sporting Goods was quite fragmented, with Big Lots and Old Spice generating some discussion. Samsung’s ad with Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell also made the list. But aside from Dick’s, the remaining notable U.S. ad discussion concerned holiday ads from seasons past, not 2014 offerings. Consumers still recall fondly an ad for Hershey’s Kisses in which the candies transform into Christmas bells, and a K-Mart ad featuring Joe Boxer is still a benchmark for holiday humor.

Holiday Ads Consumers Are Talking About This Season
Discussion Category Portion of Ad Conversation
Dick’s Sporting Goods 19.9%
Ads from Past Seasons 15.2%
John Lewis 11.9%
Sainsbury’s 8.6%
Big Lots 1.3%
Samsung 1.3%
Old Spice 1.3%
Other Brands 15.2%
Neutral/Unclear Conversation 25.2%
Source: 1,677 conversations from Networked Insight’s’ General Consumer Audience — Twitter, blogs, and forums, November 23rd – December 3rd, 2014

Why do consumers relate so strongly to the ads they take to social media to talk about? Not surprisingly, sentiment and emotional connection to the creative resonate strongly with consumers at this time of year, but there’s still plenty of room for good old fashion ad craft – both Cadillac and Big Lots were lauded by consumers for their great background music and catchy ad jingle, respectively.

Less widely discussed, but still of interest: Great Plains sporting goods supplier Scheels, a regional brand, generated positive consumer discussion with a TV spot that explained quite clearly why its stores would not be open Thanksgiving day. The reason? The retailer believes employees should spend the day with their families.

Several campaigns, despite being in heavy rotation, are creating almost no organic conversation among consumers. Notably absent from the discussion are Walmart’s spots featuring Melissa Joan Hart and Anthony Anderson, Lexus’ “December to Remember” campaign, and Mercedes retread of its “Santa’s Choice” campaign (in which St. Nick packs up white Mercedes for nice people and red Mercedes for the naughty).