What makes an ad resonate with its target audience? What are the factors that can help an ad leave a lasting impression in the minds of its viewers? System1 has developed a star rating system that factors in a broad set of data to answer these questions. Jon Evans, chief customer officer at System1, told us which ads received the highest ratings last month – and why they stood out from the crowd.
System1 tests ads on measures that predict long-term brand growth (star rating) and short-term sales growth (spike rating) – each between 1 and 5 stars. These measures are validated using the independent IPA database and also against real sales data at a category level.
The star rating captures the emotional response to an ad. Only 1% of ads on the system score 5 stars. A 1-star ad will have zero effect on brand growth, while a 5-star ad will have an exceptional impact (up to three points of market share gain, depending on investment). Often the work that receives the highest ratings comes as a surprise to everyone.
July’s top ads
5) Bojangles – “Meet the Crew”
Star rating: 3.2
Lots of brands try this kind of format – letting employees serve as brand ambassadors – and it isn’t always an easy fit. But for a service organization like a restaurant chain it makes plenty of sense, turning an anonymous experience into a friendly, positive one. The Bojangles crew are diverse, good-natured and just awkward enough on screen to make the whole thing feel real. Making a customer a member of the team is a nice touch too. It’s not a format that lends itself to storytelling or emotional peaks, but if you’re going to use it, this is a great example of how to do it well.
4) GEICO – “Geckosaurus”
Star rating: 3.4
It’s always great to see the GEICO Gecko in an ad, even if this is one of his more convoluted outings – a homage to a classic Jurassic Park scene which turns out to be a cab driver pitching his idea for a GEICO ad to a somewhat reluctant Gecko! Whether a 30-second ad is best served by this Inception-style layering of stories within stories is questionable – what we do know is that happiness jumps every time the Gecko (small or giant) appears on screen. Viewers love that lizard, and he remains one of America’s most popular Fluent Device characters.
3) Hershey’s – “Taste Paradise”
Star rating: 4.1
While some brands try to cram as much as possible into a 15-second ad, the Hershey’s style has always been to let the format breathe, so even the shortest ad captures a particular mood. When it works, it really works – think the “Christmas Bells,” an annual favorite for Hershey’s Kisses. This spot for Mounds and Almond Joy is just as simple and almost as effective – an unseen eater breaks a bar of Almond Joy in two and decorates it with a cocktail umbrella. Voila! The perfect beach mood! It’s a charming little spot which sees a huge upswing in happiness even across its very short duration.
2) Kellogg’s – “Eat Good Always”
Star rating: 4.3
It’s Tony the Tiger leading an animated dance party in a gymnasium to celebrate three new Frosted Flakes flavors. The sensory overload is typical of cereal ads and it’s not so much a story as an explosion of enjoyable chaos – but it’s all anchored by the recognizable brand mascot, who keeps the vibe upbeat throughout and gets the message over, helping the ad land as a strong 4.3-Star spot.
1) General Mills – “Yummy Delicious”
Star rating: 4.3
General Mills packs plenty of positivity into this 15-second ad for Lucky Charms. It manages to tell a fantasy adventure story, showcase brand mascot Lucky the Leprechaun and tell viewers about the new “magic gems” addition to the breakfast cereal range. All this and it still leaves the audience feeling upbeat. It’s not going to win many awards for originality but no other ad this month left as many smiles on as many faces.