Catalyx’s Founder & CEO, Guy White, shares his viewpoint of this month’s CPG landscape.

There’s a debate raging about the most successful Christmas advertisement. You can see it everywhere on LinkedIn:

Which is the best Christmas ad of 2023?

But in fact, that isn’t the debate.

The real debate going on is: which is the best testing method for long-form ads in 2023?

Kantar, System1, Zappi and others are slugging it out on social media to prove to us that their way of testing ads is the most robust. Each are posting about the top Christmas ad rankings as shown by their testing methodologies and making their cases as to why their particular method beats the competition.

Of course, the top 10 ads according to each company aren’t all the same. On top of it – you can see representatives from each camp sliding into the comment threads of the others to try and land a perfect knock-out punch.

“You can beat your over-funded competitors hands-down in the race for the festive wallet by aiming true, instead of aiming everywhere.”

If you’re like me, you’ll grab the popcorn. 

It really makes for interesting viewing. I won’t be taking up arms in this fight, but I will be keeping an eye on the action from the sidelines. It’s fascinating to be reminded just how much time, attention and money is spent on this particular niche of marketing; and it truly is a niche. The reality is, this Christmas, 99.99% of products will not be supported by this type of long-form, sky’s-the-limit advertising. Almost all will have very, very minimal above-the-line marketing budgets if at all, and yet, some of these will still win big in-market.

How’s this possible? They will win big not by chance, but purely because these products managed to find and tap into a real consumer frustration, unearth an under-capitalised trend, desire or opportunity.

Most importantly amid the ruckus made by these big-budget brands’ advertisements, these smaller disruptors will have worked out the ways to bring their consumer understanding to life. This means that they’re activating the “why” in tandem with the “how”. They’re finding the crucial moments in which their consumers are most likely to be receptive, such as at the point of purchase with pack and of course, product.

“Get your advertising right but your product wrong and you have a big problem.”

You don’t need the budget of the loudest voices to win in this season of advertising, you can beat your over-funded competitors hands-down in the race for the festive wallet by aiming true, instead of aiming everywhere.

Have you seen the Cozyberry Candle Warmer? Why have a wick and a flame when you can have a beautifully designed light that heats the candle to release the aroma without fire? Candles were invented to create light. Cozyberry have fully inverted what a candle stands for. But… it works. The brand has recognised that candles are now about emotion, aroma and interior design, and of course there’s the removed risk of naked flame during a busy time at home. It’s become an internet sensation this Christmas.

Successful Christmas Ad

Advertising can change perception, create trends, establish awareness, and build consideration. I frequently hear people murmur their worries about microscopic attention spans, but we still all love long-form advertising. Done well, it’s a 30 second studio movie that can win awards. Brilliant ads can bring you to tears. They can make you laugh out loud and completely transform a brand’s trajectory.

The truth is, though, no matter how brilliant your ad and how well it tests, if your product itself isn’t perceived positively at shelf or once tried… you don’t have a business.

David Ogilvy once said “99% of advertising doesn’t sell much of anything”, but 100% of products are used by consumers. Get your advertising right but your product wrong and you have a big problem. The other way around and you still stand a respectable chance. Many ads have won many awards, only for the product they are shouting about to fail – dramatically.

What’s coming in 2024?

I’m sure next Christmas we will have the same testing agency slugfest. Let’s leave them and the 0.01% of products to it. 

My two cents on this billion-dollar battle? Spend 2024 designing truly inspiring products that are actually built to solve the needs consumers are desperate about. And have a very, very successful Christmas by doing so.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Catalyx blog graphic

Catalyx is a Consumer-centric Innovation Consultancy. We help the world’s most forward-thinking consumer product companies unlock progress through more effective innovation.