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Are Christmas TV ads worth it?

red pohutakawa flower

Christmas TV advertisements add to the spirit of Christmas – at least that’s what two thirds of New Zealanders think.

In a nutshell

  1. The majority of New Zealanders say they would miss Christmas TV ads if they did not air.
  2. Holidays like Christmas are opportunities for marketers to tap into the mood of the nation.
  3. Marketers should use storytelling touchpoints like wrapping presents and make sure their stories are authentic to what a Kiwi Christmas looks like.

TRA’s latest research shows Kiwis view Christmas as their favourite holiday, and they also think Christmas TV ads help them feel the holiday cheer.

Our survey asked a representative sample of over 1,000* New Zealanders about their attitude to Christmas and Christmas advertising in the lead up to the start of the traditional holiday retail period. 

The results demonstrated that New Zealanders feel a strong connection to Christmas, and nearly 7 in 10 feel that Christmas advertising play an important role in the spirit of the holiday. 

This sentiment was particularly strong in the under 35’s cohort, with this group responding more favourably to the ads that reflect how we celebrate Christmas in New Zealand. 

These results clearly indicate brands should still consider Christmas as a peak time to advertise. However – there’s a catch.  

While Kiwis love good Christmas ads – they think Christmas ads have gotten worse over time. 

In fact, while 62% of people think ads reflect how we celebrate Christmas in New Zealand, about four in ten people said they believed Christmas ads were worse than they used to be. 

People are quick to recall old Christmas ads that made them feel happy and content – like this Scorched Almonds and the Vince Martin Beaurepaires Jingle Bells ad. Both of these were first aired in the 1990s.  

However, there is good news. Some brands have succeeded in creating contemporary ads that resonate – such as Air New Zealand self-deprecating take on the Kiwi accent and the NZ Post secret parcels ad.

There are three clear commonalities that exist throughout these ‘good’ ads. Firstly, the ads that stick in viewers’ minds use specific Christmas touchpoints in their storytelling - wrapping presents, gift lists and family get-togethers.  

However, these touchpoints by themselves are not enough to truly hit the mark with Kiwi audiences. To make your Christmas advertising memorable in the long-run, ads need to be relevant to Kiwi culture and the way Kiwis like to celebrate the holiday period (think Santa in shorts on the beach). Ads that seem to represent non-Kiwi ways of Christmas are unlikely to perform well and risk alienating viewers. 

Ultimately, these ads - and holidays in general - present the perfect opportunity to tap into how people are feeling in the moment. 

Finding the sweet spot between the current mood of the nation and the enduring spirit of Christmas is a sure-fire way to connect with people, build trust and cement your brand in the hearts and minds of New Zealanders nationwide.

*Nat Rep sample of 1000 people in August 2022.  

Colleen Ryan
Partner at TRA
Colleen has a curious and strategic mindset fueled by 40 years of experience in business across Europe, North America and APAC countries. With a fascination and deep understanding of what it is to be human, specifically applying principles from cultural sociology, social psychology, behavioural science, and cultural analysis, she brings breakthrough insights to brand strategy, creative development and customer centricity.

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