Who won the Christmas TV ad battle? The definitive social media analysis

Marks & Spencer's (M&S) Christmas campaign won the battle for fan acquisition, despite the much-hyped John Lewis "bear and hare" ad dominating social media chatter, according to analysis by We Are Social.

John Lewis racked up a 69% share of voice on Twitter with 212,200 mentions of its Christmas ad between 4 November and 9 December when compared to other blockbuster ads from Sainsbury’s, M&S, Tesco, Morrisons and Debenhams.

However, M&S gained almost 265,000 new Facebook fans compared to John Lewis’s 27,500. It also gained 18,000 new Twitter followers compared to John Lewis’s 22,000, despite the latter dominating Twitter conversation.

Analysis of Twitter between 4 November and 9 December

Twitter mentions Gender split (male:female) Number of new Twitter followers
John Lewis 212,200 34 - 66 21,667
Sainsbury's 38,000 25 - 75 16,140
Marks & Spencer 37,000 29 - 71 18,367
Tesco 11,800 52 - 48 10,901
Morrisons 7,500 35 - 65 5,980
Debenhams 2,600 34 - 66 5,915

The Sainsbury’s ad, which was the last to launch by the major retailers, had the greatest percentage share of "emotional impact", with 21% of people tweeting about the ad mentioning crying, compared to 8% for John Lewis.

Ed Kitchingman, a senior analyst at We Are Social, said: "The Sainsbury’s advert used the impact of a real-life serviceman being reunited with his family, which strongly resonated with the public and helped drive a high emotional response on Twitter. 

"Using its YouTube channel, it also took the innovative decision to post the full 45 minute film directed by Kevin Macdonald to support its 'Christmas in a day' ad, which has been viewed even more times than the short advert. "

Tesco's ad was the only one to achieve an even gender split of people talking about it, while Sainsbury’s was the least even with a 25:75 split between men and women.

Analysis of Facebook and YouTube between 4 November and 9 December

Total views on YouTube Number of new Facebook fans
John Lewis 10.3 million 27,671
Sainsbury's 660,775 (TV spot) 789,980 (short film) 43,257
Marks & Spencer 969,342 264,279
Tesco 568,751 18,125
Morrisons 358,125 11,940
Debenhams 105,047 14,939

Debenhams’ Christmas ad gained the least amount of traction, with the fewest of Twitter mentions and YouTube views.

Kitchingman added: "Debenhams shows you can tick all the boxes, have a generally well-received ad, but if the concept doesn’t resonate with the public, it won’t generate the mass appeal achieved by its rivals.

"Unfortunately, it didn’t have the emotional impact of Sainsbury’s or the heart warming popularity of John Lewis."

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