Dads Rule in Pre-Thanksgiving Holiday Ads

Ace Metrix Culls Winners, Losers of 64 TV Ads in Rotation

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Retailers' holiday marketing programs are in full swing, and some are already pulling ahead of the pack.

According to AceMetrix, 64 holiday ads have hit the airwaves, slightly ahead of last year. Ads featuring Dad -- either gift ideas for him or his quest for the perfect gift -- are scoring particularly well, said Jonathan Symonds, exec VP-marketing at the ad-tracking firm. Mr. Symonds said there hasn't been as big an emphasis on Dad in the past, but it seems to be working particularly well so far this holiday cycle.

While some Target holiday ads were a flop, Dream Big Magic is among the season's best.

Also resonating with consumers? Ads focused on holiday prep, particularly from home-improvement retailers such as Lowe's and Home Depot.

"If you come out of the gates well, chances are the ad and brand will continue to resonate with consumers," said Mr. Symonds. "If you come out poorly, it's often difficult to change course, given the abbreviated time frame."

With that in mind, Kmart should be concerned, Mr. Symonds said, as it's "last by a long shot." The brand trails its peers significantly, with four ads in the market. "It's hard to get out of that rut," Mr. Symonds said. "Obviously it's not good timing for them to not have a good season, given where they're at [with the business]."

Meanwhile, one of Kmart's key competitors is having a hit-or-miss holiday season. Mr. Symonds said it's a "tale of two Targets" this year, with the retailer's Deal Duet flopping, while two of its other holiday ads score among the season's best thus far. The Deal Duet was meant to replace Maria Bamford's Christmas Champ. While plenty of people disliked that character, the singing couple is hitting a sour note with consumers. 72andSunny is handling the retailer's holiday campaign.

"They're scoring even below some of the stuff we saw during the election," Mr. Symonds said, noting consumers have been telling AceMetrix the Deal Duet are "annoying."

Top Ten Pre-Thanksgiving Ads

1. Craftsman: "Maximum Versatility"

2. Target : "Dream Big Magic"

3. Sears: "Wise Baby"

4. Lowe's : "Remember the Decorations"

5. Craftsman: "Happy Men Love Tools"

6. Craftsman: "Bolt On Power Tool System"

7. Target : "Dream Big Save Bigger"

8. Bass Pro Shop: "Never Turned Down Stuffed Santa"

9. Home Depot: "Secret's Out"

10. Hallmark: "Wish List"

View all the ads here.

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