- Consumers found 31% of 2020's holiday ads to be soothing, according to Ace Metrix's evaluation of more than 200 seasonal advertisements aired so far this year. Meanwhile, 26% of people perceived the ads as wholesome, and 24% said they were heartfelt.
- Respondents said roughly one-third of this year's holiday ads promote value, down from 39% in last year's evaluation, while 40% of the seasonal ads that evoked the "value" reaction this year were tied to Black Friday deals.
- While ad campaigns are typically heartfelt, wholesome and soothing during every holiday season, those tones are markedly higher in this year's evaluation than in Ace Metrix's 2019 study as brands look to make emotional connections with consumers at the end of a difficult year.
Heartfelt, soothing and wholesome advertisements are a staple of the annual holiday season, as marketers capitalize on the feelings of family and togetherness that so often accompany the holiday season. Those qualities are registering even more strongly as many folks contemplate skipping traditional large gatherings and trips to visit extended family this year.
Among all of this year's holiday ads, Kohl's scored well across a number of metrics. Long-form versions of the retailer's "Give With All Your Heart" commercial, which takes viewers on the journey of a budding friendship over the course of lockdown, were the most heartfelt holiday ads by a qualitative landslide, even out-scoring two Hallmark ads. Kohl's spots held eight of the top 10 commercials in Ace Metrix's value category, which indicates deals and promotions made a lasting impression on viewers or that value is part of the brand's overall identity. A 30-second version of the "Give With All Your Heart" commercial also scored high on purchase intent.
This year's holiday ads are also continuing 2020's trend away from humorous emotions, owing to the pandemic and the contentious U.S. election. Ace Metrix had already noted a significant drop in the number of ads scoring on its "funny" emotional metric since the beginning of the pandemic back in spring. This year, ads taking a humorous approach dropped 7% compared with 2019. Though humorous tones are down from last year, the tactic is still present in 2020. Spots from Hefty, Sour Patch Kids and Sam's Club were all noted for their humor in Ace Metrix's analysis.
A previous Ace Metrix analysis found that 32% of holiday ads featured COVID-19 themes, with many focusing on the "new normal" versus traditional seasonal concepts. However, there was not a meaningful difference in viewer response between ads that nodded to the pandemic and those that did not.