Public can't remember charities associated with retailers' Christmas ads, research finds

Work by the consultancy nfpSynergy shows that the public often only have the vaguest memory of the charities associated with large retailers' festive campaigns

The 2014 Christmas advert from Sainsbury's
The 2014 Christmas advert from Sainsbury's

People do not remember the charities associated with big retail companies’ Christmas adverts, research by the consultancy nfpSynergy has found.

The study also revealed that although the public hear more about charities at Christmas, the cost of the festivities mean they find it harder to give money.

In November this year, nfpSynergy showed 1,000 people stills from eight retail Christmas adverts from the past few years. Half of the group was told the name of the company that produced the advert and the name of the campaign, but not the charity involved, while the other half was told the name of the charity and campaign, but not the company.

It found the public had only the vaguest memory of which charities were associated with the advert.

Even in the case of the best remembered advert, Sainsbury’s First World War-themed campaign 1914 from 2014, only 4 per cent remembered the associated charity was the Royal British Legion, while only 10 per cent of the public remembered the advert was for Sainsbury’s.

The only other advert for which more than 1 per cent of the public correctly identified the charity involved was John Lewis’s Man on the Moon advert from 2015, which 2 per cent remembered had been associated with Age UK.

Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy, said: "Our conclusion is that while Christmas adverts might provide good awareness and brand recognition for the companies involved, it is far less effective for promoting awareness of the charities involved.

"Let’s just hope it raises more money for the chosen charities than it does awareness."

John Lewis was the best remembered company, with 22 per cent connecting it to the 2015 Man of the Moon advert and 24 per cent correctly linking the retailer to its 2016 Buster the Boxer advert, which only 0.4 per cent of people remembered had been connected to the Wildlife Trusts.

Just 1 per cent of people correctly linked WWF with the 2014 John Lewis Monty the Penguin advert, Save the Children with Sainsbury’s 2015 Mog’s Christmas Calamity advert and the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity with Sainsbury’s 2016 The Greatest Gift advert.

And no one remembered that Barnardo’s had been linked to Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot advert in 2016, or that the homelessness charity Crisis had been linked to Waitrose’s 2016 #HomeForChristmas campaign.

The 1,000 survey participants were also asked about their own awareness of and involvement with charities at Christmas, and although 59 per cent agreed they were more aware of charities at Christmas, 44 per cent said the cost of Christmas made it harder to give to charities and just 28 per cent agreed they gave more to charities at Christmas.

Almost half (49 per cent) said they bought charity Christmas cards, making it the most popular way to contribute, while volunteering was the least common, with just 14 per cent agreeing that they often volunteered at Christmas.  

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