In a day when news headlines are routinely filled with stories of strife and chaos within our communities, have brands become more sensitive in their messaging? Seems like it. And it’s working for consumers. In looking at the top ads of Q3, as rated by Ace Metrix, and in reviewing some of the most measurably successful ads of 2015, the themes of cause and positivity reign supreme with viewers.
The silly slapstick comedy vignette that has gotten headlines in the past has seemingly taken a back seat to what viewers are responding to this year. Many brands are getting serious, and the ones that are doing it right are supporting important causes to buoy brand equity, as well as highlighting positivity – stories and themes that, frankly, put a smile on the faces of consumers.
Further indication of this trend comes from recent Super Bowl ads. If we consider the Super Bowl is a microcosm of the state of overall advertising, it has certainly been moving in the direction of uplifting, sentimental, and cause awareness. Some of the most talked-about executions of this this year are these ads from the Super Bowl: McDonald’s “Pay with Lovin’”, Coke’s “Make it Happy”, and Always’ “Like a Girl.”
Cause Ads That Created a Stir
How did these themes play out in Q3? Here are three such ads that won in very different ways – one through grabbing attention, one through likeability, and one for changing perception. Consumers placed each of these ads on the list of the Top Ads of Q3 from Ace Metrix.
AT&T’s “Accident” ad, part of its “It Can Wait Campaign” with BBDO, was one of the three most attention-grabbing ads of Q3.
The ad rewinds a shocking car accident scene set in motion by a mom (only) glancing at her cell phone while telling her child about how people like the picture she posted. This dramatic cautionary tale against texting and driving scored 19 percent above the corporate branding category norm for grabbing attention.
In one of the 387 optional viewer comments that Ace Metrix gathered, one viewer said, “This ad was attention grabbing. It strikes home seeing the small girl in the back seat and the discussion of distracted driving.”
2. Dick’s Sporting Goods
Dick’s Sporting Goods, which has recently won acclaim for its work promoting the “every day athlete” with agency Anomaly, produced one of the three most perception-changing ads of Q3 with its one-minute “Sports Matter” spot, a moving portrayal about how sports can change the lives of kids in need told through the story of a parentless boy who takes part in its Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership program.
Ace Metrix measured this ad to be 16 percent over the retail norm for changing perception.
In another verbatim response, a viewer commented, “Everything in this ad was eye opening. I had no idea Dick’s Sporting Goods had a foundation to help youth/teens. It made me feel good that such a large corporation is out there helping young kids make good decisions in their lives.”
Intel’s ad, “Shubham Banerjee & Intel Edison” part of its “Meet the Makers” campaign, features the story of an 8th grade boy who invented a braille printer using Intel Edison technology to give the blind a low-cost way to read.
This ad, which aired exclusively online, was one of the three most likeable ads of Q3 and scored 25 percent above the norm for likability in the corporate branding category.
According to one of the 463 optional viewer comments, “That was one of the best ads I’ve ever seen. Excellent images and very inspirational. It was a little longer than most ads but very engaging. When I am captivated I don’t the notice the length of an ad. Excellent cause and message. Thank you.”
What This Means for Brands
While advertising is trending more towards heartfelt messages, the right kind of humor can still be a winning formula. If we look back to this year’s Ace Metrix Super Bowl rankings, Snickers “Brady Bunch” was tied for second place (and one of the most talked about Super Bowl ads), with two Doritos humor ads also in the top 10.
Consumers also like to know that the large corporations they support are giving back in meaningful ways, and broadcasting that message, however self-serving it may seem, can indeed go a long way for a brand.
Stories that inspire, when done right, can help brands break through and make ever-so-important emotional connections with their audience.