Ace Metrix Reveals U.S. Consumers Top Ads of the Season

Nintendo feature

Nintendo, Ebates, Mazda and Amazon Achieve Breakout Scores While Retail Brands Fill-In Much of the Remaining List.

Ace Metrix has revealed the top scoring retail and cross-category holiday ads according to consumers in the U.S. Nintendo and Ebates maintained their early positions of number one and two throughout the season, outperforming their category peers by more than twenty percent. Advertisers used a variety of creative tools to capture consumer attention including heartwarming stories, charitable giving, festive humour and celebrity spokespeople.

“While unsurprisingly dominated by retail brands, an eclectic mix of advertisers demonstrated their creative savvy with ads rich in family and good cheer”

“While unsurprisingly dominated by retail brands, an eclectic mix of advertisers demonstrated their creative savvy with ads rich in family and good cheer,” said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix. “Whether they drew their strength from standout breakthrough characteristics, connecting with consumers emotionally, imparting new information or leveraging product passion, the ads on this list represent the top performing three percent of all holiday ads to debut so far this year.”

Top Holiday Ads of 2014
Ranked by Percent Above Category Norm (YTD)



Ad Title Ace Score Category Norm Percent Above Norm Powered By

Video Games

Dad Loses

630 511 23.2% Breakthrough

Paid To Shop

610 500 21.9% Information, Relevance, Desire

Corporate Branding

Braeden’s Story

690 569 21.2% Emotion, Breakthrough

Amazon Fire TV
Television Services


632 543 16.5% Information, Change


Holiday Magic

640 550 16.3% Emotion, Breakthrough



640 550 16.3% Emotion, Breakthrough



670 579 15.7% Information, Offer

Home Depot

Spread More Of This

632 550 14.9% Likeability, Relevance, Desire


Thanks To Your Pets

632 550 14.9% Emotion, Breakthrough

Other Insurance

The Grinch And Santa

628 548 14.5% Breakthrough


Make Someone Happy

629 550 14.4% Likeability, Relevance


Unbeatable Prices

629 550 14.3% Relevance, Desire

Best Buy

Light Up

625 550 13.6% Breakthrough, Desire

Game Stop

Santa’s Wish

625 550 13.6% Breakthrough


Make Snowman

624 550 13.4% Likeability, Relevance
*Definition: The Ace Score is the measure of ad creative performance based on viewer reaction to national TV ads. A unique sample of 500+ people, representative of the U.S. TV viewing audience, scores each ad. The results are presented on a scale of 1–950, which represents scoring on creative attributes such as Persuasion, Likeability, Information, Attention, Change, Relevance, Desire and Watchability. This list represents the top 15 holiday-themed ads whose scores outperformed their category year-to-date norms by the largest percentage. The list is based on ads to have debuted this season through December 15, 2014.

A Heartfelt (if not funny) Holiday

This year’s seasonal ads extended past the common theme of philanthropy with several advertisers delivering heartwarming stories of family and thoughtful giving. Mazda, Subaru, Blue Buffalo, Walmart and Target each debuted ads promoting a cause; however, Mazda’s “Braeden’s Story” and Walmart’s “Surprise” are the only philanthropic ads present in the top 15. Beyond philanthropic ads, brands such as Aleve, Coca-Cola, Dick’s, Kohl’s, Pampers and PetSmart portrayed uplifting themes that strived to make an emotional connection with consumers. And while overall, there were 40 percent less emotionally charged ads, this years heartwarming ads generated emotional sentiment scores 13 percent higher than last year’s set. In fact, of the top performing ads, four achieved Emotional Sentiment scores of 70 or higher (on an index of 100).

Humour also played a starring role this year with nearly 50 of all holiday ads attempting to be funny. Four of the top 15 ads were both funny and effective, a combination that can be particularly difficult to achieve. Ads from Nintendo, Amazon Fire TV, Walmart, Game Stop and Lowe’s effectively captured consumer attention while demonstrating other persuasive components such as Information, Relevance and Desire.

Consumers Thirst for Information

Particularly at this time of year, consumers appreciate simplicity of messages and well-delivered information about a product or offer to help them make informed decisions. Nearly half of all holiday ads featured a special offer including four of the top 15. In addition, winning ads from Nintendo, Ebates, Amazon, Subway, Best Buy and Walmart used a variety of approaches to effectively appeal to the rational, delivering information and inspiring desire.

Celebrity or Santa

Celebrities were featured in nearly 12 percent of all holiday ads. Four ads appeared in the top 15, including Mazda’s “Braedan’s Story,” featuring Minnie Driver, and Walmart’s “Surprise,” featuring Chicago Bears’ Jared Allen. Both of these top ads were likely powered by their philanthropic themes rather than the famous narrators. Likewise, Walmart’s “Unbeatable Prices,” featuring Melissa Joan Hart and Anthony Anderson, and Amazon Fire TV’s “Rom-Coms,” featuring Curt Menefee and Jimmy Johnson, were also arguably powered by the ad’s product offers.

Santa’s presence in this year’s ad set is down 27 percent overall. The big man appeared in 24 of the nearly 400 spots, versus 33 last year, and appears in only one of the top performing 15, having a cameo role in Home Depot’s “Spread More of This.”