Waitrose Christmas turkey

Consumers described the Waitrose ad as “morbid” and “depressing”

“Morbid”, “depressing” and “horrific” - not normally words you would associate with Christmas adverts - but that was the viewers’ verdict on Waitrose’s festive TV campaign this week.

The Grocer teamed up with a leading consumer insight and social media monitoring company to gauge reaction after retailers threw millions at campaigns featuring supermodels, singers and celebrity chefs.

According to web-scraping experts Spectrum Insight, it was Marks & Spencer’s Alice in Wonderland-style ad, featuring a scantily clad Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, which generated the most positive responses on social media - slightly more than Morrisons’ ad.

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More than two-fifths (41.8%) of comments about the M&S ad were positive against 4.5% negative. “Consumers agreed that the M&S ad reflected the brand’s ‘magic & sparkle’ proposition, with many of the social media remarks focusing on the attractiveness of Huntington-Whiteley and co-star David Gandy,” said Spectrum Insight director Mark Westaby.

In stark contrast, the festive offering from fellow premium retailer Waitrose, featuring a turkey farm, was slated by consumers as “morbid”, “depressing” and “horrific”. Just 15% of comments were positive against 6.4% negative.

It was, however, rated more highly than The Co-operative Group ad, which only notched up 8.1% of supportive comments - just beating the 6.5% of negative views expressed.

Morrisons fared better, generating 38.1% positive comments versus 4.6% negative with its ad featuring Ant and Dec. Of the comments on the Geordie duo, 40.7% were positive while just 3.3% were negative.

However, the real star appears to be Morrisons’ singing and dancing gingerbread man, who notched up 55.2% positive comments against 5.2% negative.

There was, however, a lot of concern among consumers about retailers kicking off their Christmas campaigns ‘too early’ - a phrase that has cropped up in 15% of the social media chatter about festive ads so far.

While Sainsbury’s campaign has received considerably fewer mentions than rivals as it only aired for the first time on Wednesday, it did receive a lot of plaudits for its decision to unveil its campaign after Remembrance Day.

Meanwhile, the Morrisons ad came out top in separate online research of more than 1,000 shoppers carried out for The Grocer by Research Now (see below), with more than a third saying it would make them more likely to shop at the retailer and 75% finding it visually appealing.

What the public said about this year’s Christmas TV ads

(Source: Research Now)

Asda Christmas advert 2013


Memorable: 36%

More likely to buy: 32%

Visually appealing: 46%

Informative: 59%

Co-op Christmas ad 2013

The Co-op

Memorable: 30%

More likely to buy: 17%

Visually appealing: 50%

Informative: 33%

Morrisons Christmas ad with Ant&Dec


Memorable: 68%

More likely to buy: 37%

Visually appealing: 75%

Informative: 53%

Tesco Christmas 2013 ad


Memorable: 54%

More likely to buy: 21%

Visually appealing: 48%

Informative: 21%