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The most searched Christmas adverts in the UK revealed for 2022 | #HolidayMonth

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As the holiday season creeps up on us once more, the country braces itself for another round of Christmas adverts, from the humorous to the heart-wrenching. But which brands have got the festive formula down and have helped cement themselves as synonymous with Christmas?

We Brits love a Christmas advert, and certain brands have become notorious for their Christmas campaigns. But, which Christmas marketing campaign do people look forward to the most? The Audit Lab has investigated which Christmas adverts the British public are most searching for and what lessons we can learn from their success.

1) John Lewis

Unsurprisingly, John Lewis’ Christmas advert is the most searched in the UK, with a whopping 10,000 monthly searches. It’s by far the most popular brand for Christmas campaigns, with almost double the amount of searches as the next popular brand. 

John Lewis are known for their emotional Christmas adverts that tug on Brits’ heartstrings every year. Fans of the adverts often speculate about which song or theme will be the subject of their new festive ad.

This year’s advert was recently announced as ‘The Beginner’, which tells the story of a middle-aged man who’s learning to skateboard. It’s later revealed that the man is about to foster a young child who loves to skateboard. The moving advert has been praised for raising awareness about the tens of thousands of young people and children who will spend Christmas day in care or temporary accommodation.

2) Aldi

Aldi’s advertising campaigns have been a smash hit since they introduced Kevin the carrot, and their Christmas adverts are no different. In their latest ad, which received over 5,000 monthly searches, the supermarket references popular Christmas movie ‘Home Alone’. Making the most of the name of their beloved carrot, Kevin is left at home by his family – just like in the movies. He then sets traps to defend his home from burglars.

However, the joke that really went down well with viewers was a sneaky reference to their competitors, M&S. Kevin is shown watching a football match whilst home alone, but the team names aren’t what you would expect.

The score for the match reads Cuth 1 – 0 Col, which is a reference to the legal battle which unfolded between the two brands last year. Cuthbert is Aldi’s version of a caterpillar cake, which M&S was widely known for with Colin the caterpillar. Aldi clearly believes that they won the battle since the score reads one nil to Cuthbert. It’s no surprise that this advert would be the second most popular on the list.

Whilst many Christmas adverts may take a more emotional approach, Aldi proved how humour in marketing campaigns can go a long way. Not only does the witty reference make light of the previous legal battle, it makes Aldi seem a little less corporate. Aldi’s ad was a great way to stand out amongst their competitors, as well as winning over public opinion by making a lighthearted joke at the expense of M&S.

3) Tesco

Tesco’s ad, ‘Christmas Party Broadcast’, fittingly arrived during a year that saw three different prime ministers. The supermarket created its own mock campaign pledge, promising ‘more pigs, in more blankets, for more people’.

Searches for Tesco’s Christmas advert reached 2,400, and this is unsurprising due to their past records, too. Take their 2021 Christmas ad as an example, which saw a double vaccinated Father Christmas with his vaccine passport. The ad received both backlash and praise, and made the store’s political views rather clear.

If there’s anything we can see from Tesco’s Christmas ads, it’s that they’re not afraid of a little controversy. And it seems to pay off since they’re so high on the list of most searched adverts.

4) M&S

Searches for the M&S Christmas advert reached a combined 2,400 – this was split between searches for ‘M&S Christmas advert’ and ‘Marks and Spencer Christmas advert’. This year, M&S went for a feel-good advert which focused on family and unity. Viewers watch different families open gifts whilst singers and musicians gather outside on the street.

The advert is set to Harry Styles’ ‘Treat People With Kindness’, which sets the overall tone for what M&S wants to achieve here. Styles has over 64 million monthly Spotify listeners, so it’s no surprise that the inclusion of his new hit has gone down a treat with his fans. What’s more, securing such a popular singer for the ad’s soundtrack will undoubtedly have a positive effect on searches for the ad.

However, the Christmas ads don’t stop there. M&S also released a Christmas advert for their food selection, featuring a dog toy voiced by Jennifer Saunders and a Christmas decoration voiced by Dawn French. Again focusing on friendship, the ad sees Duckie the dog toy and French’s fairy godmother decoration become friends.

Despite the celebs not making visual cameos in the ad, their voices are easily recognisable. M&S made use of a strong marketing tactic here by including voices that the British people know and love, automatically earning a positive response.

5) McDonalds

In recent years, McDonald’s have also become known for their tearjerker Christmas adverts. Last year’s ‘Imaginary Iggy’ featured a young girl and her imaginary friend, Iggy, who she slowly abandons as she grows up.

However, after a trip to McDonald’s reminds her of her imaginary pal, and they’re reunited once more for Christmas. Viewers were moved by the ad, and many took to social media to share their emotional responses to the adverts. One Twitter user said ‘I swear the last few years the McDonald’s Christmas advert has me tearing up way more than John Lewis’.

This year’s advert followed in the same trend, with social media users again exclaiming that they’d cried at the ad. Directed by Tom Hopper (who directed The King’s Speech), the advert follows a young boy called Alfie and his Christmas list. Alfie spends hours creating a huge, elaborate Christmas list.

But, tragedy strikes when he loses the list as it flies away in the wind. However, as Alfie stands with his family outside their house, he discovers a part of his list that didn’t blow away – a drawing of himself and his family. He realises that that’s all he wanted for Christmas, in a heartwarming (if cheesy) ending.

McDonald’s made a clever move by focusing on family and emotion rather than the commercial side of Christmas. People will be more likely to connect with something which they feel emotionally attached to, and most people have strong feelings surrounding family and childhood. Reminding viewers of their own childhood is an effective way to pull on viewers’ heartstrings and build a positive reputation of the brand.

6) Boots

Receiving 800 monthly searches, Boots’ Christmas advert is well deserving of a place on this list. This year’s ad features actress Lydia West, who’s known for her role in Channel 4’s ‘It’s a Sin’.

West’s character, Holly, finds a magical pair of glasses which allow her to see what brings people joy. She uses the glasses to buy presents for her loved ones, and viewers watch as they’re opened. The glasses are finally returned to their original owner, who is revealed to be Father Christmas.

This is one of the ads which focused on physical gifts, rather than overall festive cheer. However, it seems to be working for the brand. Perhaps the introduction of an imaginary product, i.e., the magical glasses, prompted the advert to be shared.

After all, come Christmas time, most people find themselves wishing they had such a helpful tool. The ad also provides viewers with inspiration for buying gifts for their own loved ones, which may help to boost sales.

7) Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s food-focused advert features Alison Hammond as a Countess who doesn’t like Christmas pudding. So, the chef works tirelessly to create a new Christmas pudding that the Countess might like. To the shock of everyone, the Countess loves the Christmas pudding, and says ‘That’s a bit of me’.

It was a clever move to use Hammond, as she’s well-loved by the nation, and was bound to get people talking. The ad contrasts the formality of royalty and tradition with Hammond’s animated personality, along with the colloquial phrase used by the Countess. This all results in a witty advert which draws on all of the nation’s favourite things.

8) Waitrose

This year, Waitrose’s Christmas advert is being released separate to parent company John Lewis, which they did last year, too. Their 2021 Christmas advert placed the spotlight on their festive food selection. This year takes a similar approach with the nostalgic strains of Bing Crosby singing "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chrustmas" giving everything a warm and comforting glow.

9) Disney

Disney is another brand who delivers emotional adverts once the festive season rolls around. Last year’s advert ‘The Stepdad’ uses a storybook to highlight the power of storytelling, and how it can bring all types of families together.

This year’s advert also centres around the same family – with the mother now pregnant. Her daughter, Ella, has a Mickey Mouse toy that’s given to her by her stepfather to comfort her at night. However, once Ella’s newest sibling is born, she passes the toy along to the newest addition to the family. Once again highlighting the closeness of family and bonding over Disney magic, the advert is a festive treat.

10) Hafod Hardware

A surprising entry in the most searched Christmas ads is family-owned business Hafod Hardware. The store released their first advert in 2019 with only a £100 budget, but the ad went viral and received over 2.7m views. The 2019 Christmas advert showed a toddler named Arthur who was cleaning, stocking shelves and serving customers in the shop. As Arthur picks up a Christmas tree at the end of the advert, he’s transformed into an adult, with the tagline ‘Be A Kid This Christmas’.

The hardware store released another advert in 2020 with the same young boy, this time focusing on his childhood activities like writing a list for Santa. He gathers TV remote batteries, a bulb, milk, and toilet paper from around his house, to name a few things. Arthur then gifts the items back to his parents as it’s revealed they’re items from their shopping list.

Although Hafod Hardware haven’t released any more Christmas adverts, their iconic ads from previous years still hold a place on this list, with around 700 monthly searches.

Which brands didn’t make the cut?

Surprisingly, Coca Cola’s iconic festive truck doesn’t seem to have made a return this Christmas, and searches for it aren’t as high as one would expect for such a dominating brand. Coca Cola was just beat out by Hafod Hardware in the most searched Christmas ads. Following were Sports Direct, Amazon, Lidl, and Very, in their respective order.

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