John Lewis’ ‘Monty the Penguin’ is the most compelling Christmas ad on the High Street

Costanza Scarpa | 16 December 2014

By measuring people’s emotions as they watched a selection of Christmas ads, we established that John Lewis’ 'Monty the Penguin' is the most compelling Christmas ad by a high street retailer this year.

Almost 1,500 people agreed to have their facial expressions tracked via their own computer webcam so we could determine their emotional reactions to Christmas ads from 25 leading high-street brands. In total, the research incorporated over 2.2 million facial data points.

'Monty the Penguin' scored an emotional 84%  – a combined measure of how the ad scores on attraction, retention, engagement and impact. This put it in the top 16% of ads ever measured by Realeyes. 

Monty narrowly beat Harvey Nichols’ 'Could I be any clearer' (80%) ad on helping people avoid unwanted gifts using somewhat crass Christmas cards designed to point the reader in the right direction. The Post Office’s “Get Christmas All Wrapped Up” featuring Robert Webb and Pixie Lott was third (68%).

2014 Most Compelling High Street Xmas Ads
Rank Retailer Advert Score
1 John Lewis Monty the Penguin 84%
2 Harvey Nichols Could I be any Clearer? 80%
3 Post Office Get Christmas All Wrapped Up 68%
4 Boots Special Because 64%
5 Iceland Peter Andre and Desserts 63%
6 Lidl Little Present 59%
7 Harrods Land of Make Believe 57%
8 Waitrose Gingerbread Stall 55%
9 Sainsbury’s Christmas is for Sharing 53%
10 House of Fraser Be You No Matter Who - Christmas 53%

“There are four elements to make an ad resonate emotionally,” explains Realeyes’ CEO Mihkel Jäätma. “Attract or hook the audience early, retain their attention, engage by invoking some form of reaction – the stronger the better – and finish with impact. Monty scored joint highest on engagement and impact with Harvey Nichols, but won because it was the best ad at retaining attention. However, both ads were very mid-table when it came to initial attraction.” 
Iceland’s ad, with Peter Andre picking out desserts, made it into the top five, courtesy of the highest overall attraction score, along with Harrods’ 'Land of Make Believe'.

Although celebrities feature in two of the top five ads, they’re not a sure-fire way of making an ad compelling. Littlewoods offering with singer Myleene Klass had the second lowest overall score of all 25 ads, and the lowest initial attraction score. H&M’s ad with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett had the fourth lowest score of all the ads measured. 

Jäätma notes, “H&M had the second lowest retention score of all the ads, which meant by the time Gaga and Bennett appeared, audiences had already drifted off – an expensive mistake. Featuring them earlier could have made a big difference.”

M&S will also be disappointed to learn their latest big budget ad 'Follow the Fairies' didn’t resonate very well with consumers, having the eighth lowest score.

Jäätma concludes, “Despite being top of the charts and outperforming last year’s 'Bear & Hare', Monty still didn’t reach the heights of our all-time Christmas winner, Harvey Nichols’ humorous 'Sorry I Spent It On Myself' from last year, which is in the top 4% of ads we’ve ever tested.”
Realeyes’ emotion analytics platform enables marketers to make better decisions across three key stages of TV/video advertising – testing the ad, planning media spend and analysing how it performed.