It was a battle of the brands that cost £8k a second just to take part. As Marcus Collins and Little Mix cried their way through Sunday’s final, the real competition was being fought between the Christmas adverts jostling for top spot in the UK’s most expensive TV advertising slot.
Using innovative testing technologies to track eye movement and monitor subliminal, emotional response, we recorded how each brand’s advert rated during the final break before Little Mix was announced winner.
It’s been a bumper year for emotional Christmas offerings, but those that paid for top billing were Estee Lauder, HMV, Currys/PC World, M&S and KFC, as well as adverts for a Coldplay concert and ITV’s Christmas Special of Downton Abbey.
Tests were conducted across a range of 18 to 25-year-olds, all of whom were regular X Factor viewers. Volunteers wore an unobtrusive electroencephalograph (EEG) headset, which monitored their brain activity, revealing levels of engagement, excitement and frustration. At the same time, eyetracking technology precisely recorded their visual journeys enabling precise correlation between what they saw onscreen with their emotional responses.
M&S’s minute-long Christmas advert ‘When You Wish upon a Star’ was the clear winner.
Despite getting off to a rocky start, the X-Factor-themed ad redeemed itself with a masterful build-up and users became more attentive and engaged as the second two thirds played out. Viewers disengaged in the first twenty seconds, but their interest peaked with a crescendo of arousal and engagement in the final fifteen seconds of the advert, coupled with a sharp drop of negative emotions in the final five seconds as the final frame played the ‘Little Mix’ and M&S logo.
The second most popular advert was KFC. Its introduction of people collecting chairs for a family get-together built strong levels of engagement in the first thirty seconds and frustration dropped to low background levels, but this became unsustainable. Attention dropped out midway through and frustration rose sharply by the end.
Guy Redwood, our MD said: “Congratulations to Marks & Spencer. Its advert’s mix of homely footage, X Factor stars, trajectory and feel-good ending had the greatest impact on the audience. It generated the right mix of emotions in the final thirty seconds as opposed to KFC’s , which peaked too soon amongst the demographic, leading to a long and slow drop in positive emotions and allowing negative emotions to creep in.”
Take a look at our Emotion Response Analysis in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vcghogXX9M