Advanced Television

Research: UK’s favourite ads of 2023

January 31, 2024

System1 and ITV have revealed the UK’s top-performing ads of 2023, with Christmas adverts dominating the top 10.

Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot took the top spot with Kevin & the Christmas Factory, meaning Kevin has now scored 5-Stars for the last five years in a row. Six of the top 10 adverts in 2023 were Christmas-themed, including ads from Amazon, Lindt, The Works and TUI, plus Coca-Cola’s classic Holidays are Coming.

In total, there were 87 5-Star adverts last year (slightly down from 92 in 2022, but up from 52 in 2021), with retail and food/beverage creatives responsible for over 60 per cent of these 5-Star creatives. Typically, only 1 per cent of ads get the top 5-Star score. The average Star Rating of 2023’s adverts was 2.6, vs 2.7 in 2022.

The ads were ranked using System1’s Test Your Ad platform, which measures viewers’ second-by-second emotional responses to advertising and features a database of nearly 30,000 ads aired in the UK.

The UK’s top 10 Nation’s Favourites ads 2023 are ranked according to Star Rating (long-term brand-building potential) and then Spike Rating (short-term sales potential):

  1. Aldi – Kevin & the Christmas Factory – 5.9-Stars; 1.80 Spike
  2. Coca-Cola – Holidays are Coming – 5.9-Stars; 1.74 Spike
  3. Amazon – Joy is Shared – 5.9-Stars; 1.73 Spike
  4. Lindt – Introducing the Choco Wafer – 5.9-Stars; 1.71 Spike
  5. Lindt – Enjoy the Magic of Festive Figures – 5.9-Stars; 1.67 Spike
  6. The Works – Unwrap Real Value Gifts – 5.9-Stars; 1.66 Spike
  7. Netflix – Dawn of the Nugget: Trailer – 5.9-Stars; 1.55 Spike
  8. Hotel Chocolat – Velvetiser – 5.9-Stars; 1.53 Spike
  9. TUI – Happy Holidays. Live Happy – 5.9-Stars; 1.51 Spike
  10. Cadbury – Garage – 5.9-Stars; 1.45 Spike

Some of the key themes related to this year’s top 50 adverts include:

Christmas dominates: With six of the top 10 adverts Christmas themed, festive ads are the gift that keep on giving. The kings of Christmas are Aldi – taking back their crown with a top-scoring riff on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, featuring their mix of familiar characters, feasting and joy, cultural references and cheeky jokes. it wasn’t always like this – less than 10 years ago we saw no 5-Star Christmas ads at all.

Brought to life: Last year saw a number of ads in which everyday items got the character treatment – think Morrisons’ singing and dancing oven gloves, M&S Food’s talking mittens and Bake-Off’s cupboard of ingredients. In his work Lemon and Look out, Orlando Wood talks about how ‘the living’ draws the attention of the right side of the brain, and living characters are one of the elements which leads to more effective, brand-building work.

More than words: As brands look more and more to make ads which work across multi-lingual and global markets, it’s no surprise that dialogue-heavy spots are giving way to wordless storytelling in which looks, glances, facial expressions, and non-verbal communication are all important. OWood calls this “between-ness” – it’s the universal language of effective advertising, and brands are using it better than ever.

Nostalgia hits the Millenium: What do Ben & Jerry’s classic Windows cursors, Barbour’s use of Shaun the Sheep, and Haagen-Dasz’ reworking of a Chemical Brothers classic have in common? They’re all drawing cultural references from things which got big in the 2000s, a decade that’s finally coming into marketers’ sights as a source of nostalgia and imagery.

Ordinary voices: Cadbury’s great innovation, including with ‘glass and a half in everyone’, has been to ditch FX and music in favour of a documentary style in which people’s real conversations and voices can be heard. Cadbury typically stood alone in doing this but this year we’ve seen hit ads from other brands which use the same kind of slice-of-life approach. It’s not for every brand, but get it right and this down-to-earth approach feels ultra-authentic and creates a truly powerful emotional connection.

Jon Evans, Chief Customer Officer, System1, commented: “2023 was another bumper year for effectiveness and creativity, with many brands and agencies producing their best work during the festive season. We’ve seen ads that both drive short term sales and deliver long-term build branding, effectively tapping into both seasonal moments and the everyday.”

Kate Waters, Director of Client Strategy and Planning, ITV, added: “From Aldi to Cadbury to Amazon, this year’s Nation’s Favourites provide a wonderful showcase for the creativity and craft that are so critical to the effectiveness and therefore the impact of the industry.”

Categories: Advertising, Articles, Consumer Behaviour, Research

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