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[Analysis] The Retail Christmas Campaign Showdown: A Sneak Peek

Dec 21, 2015 4:09:37 PM

Sainsburys Tesco Marks Spencer John Lewis Christmas Ads Campaigns Analysis Results ROI Audience

With Christmas trees up all over the country, top campaigns of major retailers are well underway and have once again dominated conversation when they were unveiled. But these campaigns don’t just provide the brands with festive customers, they also have the potential to provide a vast amount of Twitter data on their audience which can be used for future campaign actions, audience research, and competitor comparisons. Whose campaign reached the audience they were aiming to? Who had the largest unique audience for their campaign? What were the defining personality traits of the audience? Whose audience was the most likely to respond to Twitter Ads? The answers to all of these questions can be found by looking at the people who responded to the campaigns.

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We thought we’d give you a taster of what we discovered when we looked at the personality of people who responded to last year’s Christmas campaigns by four of the biggest retailers in the UK, whose campaigns all got our attention as well as thousands of Twitter users. Our Personality Insights tool was developed with IBM Watson and analyses Tweets using the Big Five Personality Model, as well as needs and values. We analysed users who Tweeted key unique campaign hashtags, content, and accounts during last year’s Christmas period. So, what sneak peeks can be uncovered at this point?

2014 Campaigns: What Have We Found Out So Far?

John Lewis

In recent years, John Lewis’ Christmas campaigns have become a festive staple rivalled only by the Coke lorries. Last year was no exception as the advert featuring Monty The Penguin was viewed over 25 million times on YouTube alone. Out of the four campaigns here, this was the only one to achieve over a billion potential impressions on Twitter, but what sort of an audience were engaging with it?

  • In keeping with the advert’s theme of thinking about others, those who responded displayed higher levels of empathy than the average UK Twitter user.
  • Fitting for a brand who has etched their own place in the Christmas marketing calendar, people who interacted with this campaign exhibited characteristics that suggested they were the most ‘open to change’ when it comes to motivating factors in purchase decisions.
  • Those interacting with this campaign showed the highest levels of self-expression, suggesting they were most likely to be drawn to products that helped them discover and assert their own identities.


Sainsbury’s highly emotive Christmas campaign from 2014 highlighted their longstanding connection with the Royal British Legion and was set in no man’s land on Christmas Day in 1914. The Christmas 1914 campaign scooped ad agency AMV BBDO a Cannes Lions award, but what sort of audience was it rewarded with on Twitter?

  • People responding to the Sainsbury’s ad were more fiery than the responders of any other campaign, and a whole 16.1% more fiery than the average UK Twitter user.
  • This campaign drove the most curious audience, but they also ranked as the least conscientious.
  • Out of all of the audiences, people engaging with Sainsburys’ campaign had the highest urge to achieve, succeed, and take on a challenge. 
Sainsburys: The breakdown of desires that this audience needs from a product
Sainsburys: The breakdown of desires that this audience needs from a product


With their first UK store opening in 1990, Aldi are up against native retailers who have been in the country since the 1800s. Their 2014 Christmas advert had them providing Christmas lunch for a large mix of families all over the world, and featured a cheeky Jools Holland cameo at the end. How did the people connecting with their campaign differ from the others?

  • People who Tweeted about this campaign were the most altruistic and adventurous, plus the most likely to make decisions based on hedonism. They’re also the least neurotic. We henceforth crown them as the best people to invite to your Christmas parties.
  • They also had the highest practicality and modesty traits, which aligns with Aldi’s aims to deliver affordable quality.
  • Despite having the lowest number of followers at the time of writing, they have the highest percentage of users exclusively following them (51.17%) compared to the other retailers analysed.

Marks & Spencer

A mysterious reveal lead to a glamorous, cheeky campaign from Marks & Spencer. The piece implied the glory of the giver in a fun manner, and this was reflected in the audience that got involved with the campaign.

  • The percentage of responders who needed ‘excitement’ in a product was 5.9% higher than the rest of the UK.
  • M&S share more unique followers with Sainsbury’s than any of the other retailers we looked at. At our time of analysis, 165,845 Twitter users are followers of both.
  • With such a playful campaign, it comes as little surprise that this campaign drove the most cheerful, excitement seeking, and sociable audience.
M&S Campaign Analysis 2015 2016 2014 Twitter SocialBro A detailed look at a section of the M&S personality facets


What You’ll Learn In The New Year

Once the 2015 Christmas period is over, the data on the 2015 campaigns will be ready to analyse. Here’s what data-savvy marketers can look forward to discovering in 2016:

  • The highlight findings of who engaged with this year’s Christmas campaigns from these brands
  • Detailed statistics on whose campaign was the most successful on Twitter
  • The comparisons in personality and results between the 2014 and 2015 campaigns
  • How many people followed the brands, but DIDN’T interact with the campaigns
  • The extent to which people are loyal to a single brand with their Tweets
  • Which campaigns had the best social retention year-on-year
  • And more!

Why Is This Important?

There are actionable business advantages that can be gleaned from taking the time to perform in-depth analysis on selected audiences. Brands who have the above data, about their campaigns or their competitors, can do the following things:

  • Tailor future targeted campaigns based on what did and did not resonate with large groups.
  • Segment their research and campaigns based on user personalities, audience crossovers, and whether they engaged with the campaign or not.
  • Create campaigns based on how certain segments of their audience are likely to respond, are they more likely to download content or claim a coupon?
  • Identify loyal segments of fans, who may be open to DM campaigns with discount codes or exclusive event invites.
  • Deliver data points on what differentiates fans of your brand and your competitors.
  • Discover where in the country your campaign was most popular, and where your competitors were leading the conversation.
  • And many other reasons

See how this technology can be implemented into your own Twitter strategy.

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