<img src="https://certify.alexametrics.com/atrk.gif?account=V4lcx1Votw200M" style="display:none" height="1" width="1" alt="">
2 min read

What makes a top-10 holiday ad?

Featured Image

Last year, Ad Age & Adrianne Pasquarelli took a look at the Top 10 Holiday Ads of the year. We wanted to go deeper to understand what worked and what missed... in our brains. 

In 2020, ads had the tough job of breaking through holiday clutter to reach consumers while remaining sensitive during the pandemic. As the article posited - the most successful ads did this by appealing to consumers’ emotions. 

The rankings for the top 10 ads were based on an “an emotional measurement tool that tracks viewer comments and compares them.” 

As we approach holiday seasons 2021 (Well, holiday PLANNING season . . . don’t worry - we are not skipping over 🎃 & 🦃) - Immersion thought it’d be fun to test last year’s ads and see how they perform neurologically. 


Brand Managers in holiday ad-planning mode - TAKE NOTE!

Let’s dig in. 


HOLIDAY AD #1: Greenies

Greenies Analysis

CLICK HERE to see the full Greenies commercial with second-by-second Immersion measurement.


As you can see - this commercial didn’t drive a state of immersion. The audience was below average levels of immersion (average measurement is 45 for this content) for almost the entire duration of the commercial!

Ace Metrix (the measurement tool used that is built on self-reported "likes") was measuring the ad's emotional resonance. And we can plainly see plenty of evidence in this spot that would drive emotion. A cartoon dog. A young child building a snowman? Who wouldn’t love that? 

But Immersion measures a unique brain state in which both oxytocin and dopamine are present (heady right?) That means Immersion is a neuroscience tool that is not just measuring emotion. . .  or even attention. 

Immersion measures a particular cocktail of brain chemicals to see if they are present. When a consumer shows high levels of immersion, it indicates the viewer is in a state of immersion.

And immersion, we know from 20+ years of science and research, predicts future action. When a viewer is in a high state of immersion - they are more likely to remember and act on what they saw. 

So - while Greenies maybe delighted or entertained a lot of viewers . . . it is unlikely that the brand saw a large spike in sales specifically from this commercial. Maybe this #1 spot drove self-reported emotion - but it ain’t action. 



Now let’s look at an ad that did move the needle on Immersion . . . 

HOLDAY AD #7: WeatherTech

Weathertech Holiday

CLICK HERE to see the full Weather Tech commercial and second-by-second Immersion analysis. 


The commercial begins with average immersion scores as the puppy enters the screen. The first immersion spike hits around halfway through the commercial, when we see the puppy speeding around the corner for a bite from his WeatherTech bowl. 


Weather Tech Peak #1


This denotes that WeatherTech connected with their audience. in that moment The second spike is even more advantageous as it occurs just before the WeatherTech logo appears on screen. 


Weathertech Peak 2


Moving a logo or pertinent information in an ad to a spot where immersion peaks is a brilliant move! A spike in immersion indicates the audience is more likely to remember that particular part of the ad.

When that moment coincides with your key messaging, awareness and takeaway?

Now that's holiday magic. 



We'll leave you with a snapshot of measurements on how the remaining ads performed. Check out the photos and click the links if you want to dig in more to the dynamic Immersion measurement! 

(NOTE: an average measurement for this type of content is 45. Anything above that is positive)


HOLDAY AD #10: Hallmark




HOLIDAY AD #9: Toyota

Toyota Holiday



HOLIDAY AD #8: Kohl's




HOLIDAY AD #7: WeatherTech

Weathertech Holiday



HOLIDAY AD #6: Macy's




HOLIDAY AD #5: Ferrero Rocher

Ferrero Rocher



HOLIDAY AD #4: Capitol One

Capitol One



HOLIDAY AD #3: Soda Stream

Sode Stream Analyze







HOLIDAY AD #1: Greenies

Greenies Analysis-1


4 min read

Embracing Neural Diversity & Predicting Behavior

People are weird. Whether you're a leader, a marketer, a branding guru, or a product developer, I'm certain you've...

3 min read

AI Could Mean Better Mental Well-Being for All

The Editors at JAMA Missed the Point: Harnessing Digital Bioassays for Emotional Fitness and Mental Well-being

In an

4 min read

Emotional Fitness: Where to Start

Discover the evolution of "emotional fitness" from its recognition in 1949 to today’s innovative approaches. We’ve...