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The best TV ADS of 2011: which brands delivered the most entertaining and memorable TV ads in the past year? Nielsen analysed every fmcg ad aired to find out.

How great was your last TV ad? Ask 100 people and you're likely to get 100 different opinions.

At Nielsen, it's our job to understand what consumers watch and buy. We measure and analyse every ad on TV to gauge just how effective and engaging they really are.

We use five key metrics: whether viewers remember an ad; if they know which brand it was for; whether they understand its message; whether they, put simply, like the ad overall; and whether they are more likely (or less) to purchase your product as a result of seeing it. These metrics are based on findings from almost two million individual viewer ad surveys in the past year alone.

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For The Grocer's Top Campaigns of the Year, we scored every fmcg ad aired in the past 12 months on two of those metrics: how memorable it was and how successfully the specific brand was recalled. This determined the winning ads for each category.

Tellingly, the average 'recall score' across all fmcg ads in the past year was just 48% - meaning that fewer than half of the viewers remembered the ads they saw on TV. Only ads with a recall score above this norm were put forward to the second stage of our process. However, a few categories failed to provide any particularly memorable ads. For those, the recall threshold was lowered to find the best in class. For the second stage of the process, ads were judged on 'brand linkage'.

Scoring well on both criteria is vital. Many ads resonate with viewers but are wrongly attributed to competitor brands. Other ads may have great branding, but struggle to get people remembering the actual spot. As such, it's not always the most creative, groundbreaking or unique spots that emerge as winners. In general, we find many other factors beyond creative content contribute to the performance of an ad. Content is important, but in the real world significant roles are played by media placement, campaign weight, programming environment, ad length and campaign heritage. In fact, our analysis suggests that where an ad is placed is just as important as the creative itself. Those two criteria typically account for a quarter of an ad's overall performance.

There are elements ot execution common to most high-performing ads. Strong executions tend to:

* Tell a story. They encourage viewers to be engaged until the end to find out what happens.

* Make it simple. Too many cuts can hurt a storyline, create confusion and obscure the brand.

* Make it funny. Viewers want to be entertained.

* Show relatable characters. Demonstrate the brand is for "someone like me".

* Use brand icons. Create instant brand identification. Of course, including these elements doesn't guarantee strong ad performance.

To qualify for this analysis, ads had to be new - aired in their current format for the first time between October 2010 and September 2011.

Some were variations on a theme, or parts of long-term campaigns. These ads clearly enjoyed a halo effect, using a new ad to build on a longer running-campaign. Great examples were Special K and Foster's, where iconic colours, characters, music and visuals have been continued and reinforced over time.

But all the ads that proved memorable with viewers had something that made them stand out from the crowd-and that's what makes them the best ads of 2011.

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1. AUNT BESSIE'S

FROZEN POTATO

General recall: 72%

Brand linkage: 93%

Aunt Bessie's deployed snooping sleuths Margaret and Mabel in this ad for its Homestyle Roast Potatoes and its Yorkshire puddings. The pensionable investigators embarked on antics straight from Mission: Impossible to test whether the products could possibly taste as good as they looked. A daring break-in was carried out in true Ethan Hunt-style. With wrinkles.

2. FOSTER'S

LAGER

General recall: 71%

Brand linkage: 90%

Thank Foster's that agony uncles Brad and Dan were on hand this year to dish out some Aussie-style common sense to hapless Brits struggling with awkward social situations. The pick of this year's bunch saw Warren from Halifax get some top advice on his girlfriend's 'experimental' new haircut. "Lies show you care about other people's feelings," Brad and Dan sagely note.

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3. VOLVIC

WATER

General recall: 71%

Brand linkage: 84%

A village swelters in the sun, as dry as the dialogue in a spaghetti western. The villagers stampede towards a mountain, where an eruption showers them in delicious cool water. A real diamond geyser.

4. WALKERS CRINKLES

BAGGED SNACKS

General recall: 70%

Brand linkage: 89%

There's still Method in the Magners, with man and nature working in perfect harmony as Eamonn and his beard of obedient bees pollinate the 17 varieties of apples that go into each bottle of Magners.

5. MAGNERS

CIDER

General recall: 70%

Brand linkage: 87%

After soulful crooner Lionel Richie, Britain's own Phil Collins was next to get the Gary Lineker treatment in a soft-focus epic for Walkers Crinkles - the jug-eared one miming his way through a ropey version of Collins' 1980s schmaltzy srnooch-fest Groovy Kind of Love. This is the soundtrack to a tug of love between Lineker, his new favourite crisps and Australian supermodel Elle 'The Body' MacPherson, who tires of his obsession with the bagged snacks and elopes with a few packs of her own.

6. DETTOL HAND WASH

LIQUID SOAP

General recall: 69%

Brand linkage: 86%

Your soap pump can harbour hundreds of bacteria," warned Dettol when it launched its No Touch handwash system, promising to free us from the misery of having to finger a "germy soap pump" forever.

7. DOLMIO BOIOGNESE

COOKING SAUCES

General recall: 68%

Brand linkage: 86%

You couldn't escape the Dolmio puppets this year, as the brand played up the "100% nattural-aingray-dients" now in Mama's Bolognese sauces. "Mama's a nattural-a", says Papa, whatever he means by that.

8. GIOVANNI RANA

RICE B PASTA (PASTAS)

General recall: 68%

Brand linkage: 80%

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TV presenter Tim Lovejoy fronted this ad for Giovanni Rana in which he dupes an Italian woman into cooking him dinner for a hot date - only for her to discover she is in fact the target of his advances.

9. COW & GATE

BABY PRODUCTS

General recall: 67%

Brand linkage: 82%

In a bid to show the level of essential nutrients in its milk, this ad shows a hapless child dwarfed by a 12-litre cup of milk-the amount of 'ordinary' milk they'd need to drink each day to get the same goodness.

10. FLORA CUISINE

OIL

General recall: 66%

Brand linkage: 72%

Flora called in Vernon Kay's mum to up the glamour for a run of ads

touting the 45%-less-saturated-fat Flora Cuisine. "It's star treatment for the hearts you love," says Gladys in her broad Boltonian brogue.

11. GILLETTE FUSION

RAZORS

General recall: 65%

Brand linkage: 73%

A changing room is the location for this Fusion ProGlide ad in which a dodgy-looking character asks men whether they've experienced 'uncomfortable tug and pull'. Rather than calling security, they tell him.

12. FEBREZE

A IRC ARE

General recall: 64%

Brand linkage: 90%

A man's favourite chair - the place where he eats, drinks and whatever else he does while watching TV - will smell fresh as a daisy after a run through the car wash. Or you could just use a few squirts of Febreze.

13. INNOCENT

JUICE

General recall: 64%

Brand linkage: 82%

Innocent in heroic form as a caped bottle of smoothie comes to the rescue of hungry folks tempted to tuck into something less nutritious. The idea was elevated to super-powered status with wry execution.

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14. COLGATE

TOOTHPASTE

General recall: 63%

Brand linkage: 86%

A chap in a suit uses Star Trek-style technology to show a woman her mouth is a fetid pool of infection. The next day, after a quick whizz with Colgate Total Advanced, her teeth are bacteria-free.

15. ORAL-B

TOOTHBRUSHES

General recall: 63%

Brand linkage: 68%

A terrifying Anna Richardson scowls from beneath a fringe of hair so dark that light cannot escape, as she stars in a pseudo-documentary so convincing it has to announce This is an advertisement'.

16. CRAVENDALE MILK

FRESH MILK

General recall: 2%

Brand linkage: 89%

This nightmarish vision of cats with thumbs conspiring to steal our milk was Cravendale's most disturbing ad to date. But since then it has come up with the image of a cow in a nightdress begging to be milked.

17. CORSODYL

MOUTHWASHES

General recall: 62%

Brand linkage: 64%

Corsodyl broke the mould for mouthwash with one of the year's most memorable ads. Okay, a missing tooth isn't quite up there with The Crying Game for shock twists, but it's a startling image.

18. FINISH QUANTUM

DISHWASH

General recall: 61%

Brand linkage: 86%

Finish Quantum threw down the gauntlet with a pledge to refund anyone whose grubby plates didn't pass the Quantum Challenge of cleanliness. It's all done with "unique cleansing micro-beads", you know.

19. WALL'S

SAVOURY PASTRIES

General recall:61%

Brand linkage: 81%

This ad saw true love spring forth in the unlikely surrounds of a gloomy late-night petrol station. Men being men, a snack buyer is too repressed to communicate his feelings of gratitude and love to the woman on the other side of the bulletproof glass. Luckily he's got a tiny dog in a jewellery box doing its best impression of Mike Skinner from The Streets in a dancehall/dub-step mash-up that pays tribute to meat snacks and garage workers in a very modem take on romance.

20.1YNX EXCITE

SHOWER

General recall: 59%

Brand linkage: 87%

The Lynx effect was ramped up even further this year with the arrival of Lynx Excite. In the eye-catching ad, scantily clad heavenly bodies fall from the lap of the gods into the lap of the very mortal Lynx wearer.

21. NESPRESSO

GROUND/ROAST COFFEE

General recall: 59%

Brand linkage: 81%

George Clooney's luck seems to have run out when he's crushed by a piano after buying a Nespresso machine. But he's given another stab at life-and another chance to procure the coffee maker.

22. VICKS NASAL SPRAY

COLD B FLU REMEDIES

General recall: 58%

Brand linkage: 85%

A besuited woman pauses to mend a ladder in her tights with nail polish. If you're wondering what this has to do with Vicks First Defence Nasal Spray, the message is that it is all about catching things early.

23. WARBURTONS

BREAD

General recall: 58%

Brand linkage: 73%

These ads showed the baker's factory celebrating the completion of its millionth loaf. The music subsides - until loaf number 1,000,001 rolls off the production line, prompting a fresh round of partying.

24. ROBINSONS

SOFT DRINKS (SQUASHES)

General recall: 57%

Brand linkage: 87%

Shane Meadows, director of This Is England, helmed this bid to tug on the heartstrings of parents by showing kids towing around a cart full of Robinsons Double Concentrate squash offering free drinks.

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25. ANDREX

TOILET TISSUE

General recall:57%

Brand linkage: 85%

Moving away from the real-life puppy that championed Andrex toilet tissue for decades was a big call, but you couldn't accuse the brand of hedging its bets. A follow-up to the debut of its oddly creepy computer-generated pups had dozens of them swarming in contrasting parties embodying the "bright and bold" or "subtle and stylish" limited-edition loo rolls that, from the advert, looked suspiciously hard to tell apart. We're hoping for a face-off with the Cravendale cats.

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26. PETITS FILOUS

YOGHURTS

General recall: 57%

Brand linkage: 70%

A boy is bullied into handing over his marbles until a blonde French moppet explains the calcium-enhancing joys of Petits Filous and promptly arm-wrestles the bully into returning said marbles.

27. KLEENEX SMALL BOX

FACIAL TISSUES

General recall: 56%

Brand linkage: 90%

A sequence of runny-nosed sneezers are unable to locate the box they desperately need. The message is simple. These people can't reach their Kleenex. You, on the other hand, need only go shopping.

28. WKD

RTDS

General recall: 56%

Brand linkage: 89%

An ad sure to strike a note with anyone who is, or has been, in a relationship. The scene is a lively pub that suddenly falls totally silent following the ring of a mobile - and the barman chiming the Missus Alert bell.

29. DOLMIO PASTAVITA

POT SNACKS

General recall: 56%

Brand linkage: 86%

Carlo boldly provides the dinner for his ladyfriend Sofia in the ad for PastaVita, showing that even puppets with comedy accents have more progressive gender politics than Silvio Berlusconi.

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30. CATSAN CAT LITTER

PET CARE

General recall: 56%

Brand linkage: 85%

A kitten with the voice of a 40-year-old woman trying to sound like a five-year-old girl (trying to sound like a kitten) slinks around a house looking for the litter tray, before a friendly human saves the day.

31. DUCK

TOILET CARE

General recall: 56%

Brand linkage: 75%

A tough-looking cartoon duck quacks a bit, then squirts some toilet cleaner into an already pristine toilet bowl, all to a single phrase: 'Duck 4in1 helps remove stains even below the waterline.'

32. CATHEDRAL CITY

CHEESE

General recall: 55%

Brand linkage: 89%

Brian Cox hardly needed to be on Oscar-winning form for this ad for Mature Lighter - cheese on toast is impossible to see without wanting some yourself. Here, the bubbling, golden grilled treat sells itself.

33. BURTON'S DODGERS

BISCUITS

General recall: 55%

Brand linkage: 88%

Another ad likely to induce nightmares, this pits the Jammie and Toffee Monkeys against one another in a battle for the affections of a bewildered shopping mum. A brilliant and memorable walk on the weird side that has since spawned Facebook pages, Twitter aliases and even copycat videos - check out the dubstep version on YouTube. The first Dodgers TV ad in four years has clearly grabbed the public's imagination, quite possibly in a nasty Bunuel eyeball-slicing kind of way.

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34. MAGNUM MINI

HANDHELD ICE CREAM

General recall: 55%

Brand linkage: 86%

Magnum got straight to the point with these ads showing a young woman curling up on the sofa with a Mini Liqueur ice cream. Presumably she eats the other five when the cameras have stopped rolling.

35. GREEN GIANT

CANNED VEGETABLES

General recall: 55%

Brand linkage: 82%

With Mum starring as 'Mum', proud mum of Angelic Kid 1 and Angelic Kid 2, this ad lampoons Hollywood trailers and the idea that all women can aspire to is getting food on the plates of their brood.

36. KENCO COFFEE

INSTANT COFFEE

General recall: 55%

Brand linkage: 80%

Kenco, which has cut its pack-aging an impressive 97%, showed the less successful outcome of trying a 100% packaging cut, with shoppers carrying coffee granules in cupped hands and pockets.

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37. LURPAK

BUTTERS & SPREADS

General recall: 55%

Brand linkage: 76%

These ads, voiced with effortless gravitas by Rutger Hauer, showed Lurpak going into pie crusts and cakes - and over mushrooms and spuds - as the brand continued to sell itself to foodies.

38. CILLIT BANG

SURFACE CLEANERS

General recall: 55%

Brand linkage: 72%

The Reckitt Benckiser brand kept up its usual pathologically cheerful tone in this year's advert for Cillit Bang with Bleach, which made cleaning the toilet look more fun than a week at Disneyland.

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39. GAVISCON

GASTRIC REMEDIES

General recall: 54%

Brand linkage: 92%

Will Irene Cara's 'What a Feeling' ever go away? Not while there's a need for Gaviscon Strawberry antacids, it won't. This ad features strawberries falling into a white potion. And a firefighter.

40. DOVE DEODORANT

DEODORANT

General recall: 54%

Brand linkage: 91%

Dove persuaded a bunch of young women to turn their tops inside out - revealing their chalk-free underarms but not their boobs-to demonstrate how its Invisible Dry; Deodorant leaves no marks.

41. VANISH

LAUNDRY DETERGENTS

General recall: 54%

Brand linkage: 90%

Will detergents alone get rid of those nasty marks? Stare at your washing machine for long enough and the suds spinning round will become a wheel of fortune that answers ... no. Time to reach for the Vanish.

42. THE FAMOUS GROUSE

SPIRITS

General recall: 54%

Brand linkage: 89%

At first, the grouse appears to be under attack, to a backdrop of loud bangs. But the noises are party streamers going off - and adland's favourite game bird winds up showered with confetti. And alive.

43. WERTHER'S

SUGAR CONFECTIONERY

General recall: 54%

Brand linkage: 82%

Werther's continued to milk nostalgia for all it was worth with an astonishingly wideeyed five-year-old stepping into a magical candy store, all gleaming scales and gold wrappers. Dentists, look away now.

44. KELLOGC'S SPECIAL K

CEREALS

General recall: 53%

Brand linkage: 94%

Kellogg's encouraged dieters to turn their "meanest critics into their greatest assets" with an innovative online slimming plan designed to help them squeeze into their ill-fitting jeans. For any fellas watching, the advert also offered an eyecatching parade of slim yet curvaceous women wearing incredibly tight-fitting jeans. And those red swim-suits will have brought back fond Baywatch memories for viewers of a certain age. This ad has a little something for everyone.

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45. HEINZ FRIDGE PACK

CANNED GOODS (BEANS)

General recall: 53%

Brand linkage: 91%

Whimsy met convenience here with a look at the containers people use to store uneaten beans in the fridge - Toby jugs, mugs, cups and saucers. Tatty Tupperware and mouldy plates are notable for their absence.

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46. MCVITIE'S JAFFAS

CAKES

General recall: 53%

Brand linkage: 81%

A tour bus driver desperate for a cuppa and a Jaffa Cake whisks bemused tourists through London en route to the kettle. The tour highlight? "Politicians, ding dong and the Queen's gaff." You work it out.

47. COCA-COLA

CARBONATED SOET DRINKS

General recall: 51%

Brand linkage: 84%

Coke has long been king of the festive ad, but last year's 'snow globe' spectacular raised the bar. Santa sets in motion a roll-ercoasterof CGI and live action encapsulating all that's good about Christmas.

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48. TERRY'S ORANGE

CHOCOLATE CONFECTIONERY

General recall: 0%

Brand linkage: 89%

A phone, high heels, a toy hammerany of these will do when you have to break apart the segments of a Terry's Chocolate Orange. 'Smash it to pieces, I love it to bits' was the theme I for an amusing and stylish ad.

49. BIRDS EYE

FROZEN FISH

General recall: 50%

Brand linkage: 86%

Willem Dafoe continued his stellar work for Birds Eye as the voice of the lovabie-yet-sinister polar bear that lurks in iceboxes and dishes out strangely emotive advice about Bake to Perfection meals.

50. YAKULT

YOGHURT DRINKS

General recall: 50%

Brand linkage: 81%

Yakult hit the mark with a wry ad that showed a lad getting a dodgy haircut from a trendy barber. But his stomach knows what's good for him: "When it comes to looking after you, your gut knows best."

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51. TETLEY TEAS

TEA

General recall: 50%

Brand linkage: 80%

Those of us who lived through it tend to view the 1980s as the decade taste forgot - padded shoulders, big hair and Dynasty. But it's not all bad. Eighties small screen stars the Tetley Teafolk struck such a chord with TV-viewing Brits that they made their comeback this year in an intricate ad that was a slapstick work of art. Stan, Gaffer and company, having broken out of a dusty storeroom, have since gone on to unleash their marketing power on a grateful nation.

52. RED BULL

ENERGY DRINKS

General recall: 49%

Brand linkage: 79%

Red Bull gave nature documentaries a twist, with an energised zebra emerging from a river clutching a smart new crocodile-skin handbag. The 'Gives You Wings' strapline has never been more potent.

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53. FAIRY

HAND DISHWASH

General recall: 48%

Brand linkage: 71%

"It takes around 20,000 dishes to become an athlete," says Fairy as we watch a toddler morph into a child, sporty teen and muscular young man, unburdened by having to do dishes for his mum.

54. PAMPERS BABY-DRY

NAPPIES

General recall: 48%

Brand linkage: 70%

This is a bizarre ad - the distracting kiddified music is a haze of simplistic chords and tinny tones. If we didn't know better, we'd suspect them of trying to market directly to babies.

55. COMFORT

FABRIC CONDITIONER

General recall: 48%

Brand linkage: 57%

Oddly for a fabric conditioner, Comfort has based its ads on a cartoon fabric family that can only be described as irritating. The arrival of Comfort Brights is the latest ad in a seemingly never-ending story.

56. HEAD & SHOULDERS;

SHAMPOO

General recall: 47%

Brand linkage: 81%

We've all been there: on a date and all you can think about is that embarrassing itch. P&G addressed the issue with its ad for Itchy Scalp Care, which had a girl disappearing under the table for a cheeky scratch.

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57. HAAGEN-DAZS

ICE CREAM

General recoil: 45%

Brand linkage: 64%

The boundaries between sex and ice cream grew blurrier this year thanks to another sensual effort from Haagen-Dazs, a tour de force in delayed gratification. 'The waiting only makes it sweeter' was the message.

58. LONDON PRIDE

ALB

General recall:41%

Brand linkage: 72%

James May dropped down from Top Gear to a more leisurely pace altogether as he strolled from home to his idyllic local boozer for a pint of Fuller's London Pride - "the one thing I'd walk somewhere for".

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59. NUROMOL

OTC

ADULT ORAL ANALG ESICS

General recall: 39%

Brand linkage: 71%

In the movies, growing a beard usually signifies a character having a mental breakdown. However, in Reckitt Benckiser's advert for Nuromol - its new pain-reliever containing ibupro-fen and paracetamol - the sprouting of bushy facial hair indicated simply the passing of time while its boffins came up with a long-lasting painkiller strong enough to stop even those whingers with iffy wisdom teeth from complaining for a few hours.

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60. BRANCOTT ESTATE

WINE

General recall: 38%

Brand linkage: 56%

Brancott Estate's marketing people took the saying about tiny acorns to heart. The creative shows a man planting a single grape seed. As he looks proudly on, vines spring up in orderly lines.

61. VIENNETTA

FROZEN DESSERTS

General recall: 35%

Brand linkage: 71%

This ad - the Viennetta 'guide to sharing' - showed the dessert being dished out for a mate who's come round to watch the football. Supporting the wrong team lands him with a smaller slice. Simple but effective.

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62. NEW COVENT GARDEN

SOUP

General recall: 32%

Brand linkage: 83%

Making soup look sexy isn't easy, and to its credit, New Covent Garden Soup Co doesn't really try. Instead, this ad preaches a message of wholesome freshness, following vegetables from fields to kitchens.

63. HELLMANN'S MAYO

TABLE SAUCES

General recall: 31%

Brand linkage: 74%

Hellmann's promised to bring out the best of Boxing Day with 'feet-up feasts' that primarily involved slathering the remnants of Christmas dinner in mayo, and possibly anything else lying around the house.

64. CHICAGO TOWN

FROZEN PIZZA

General recall: 29%

Brand linkage: 58%

This ad is an aural assault, narrated by a pseudo Noo Yoiker shouting about the benefits of pizza. "Points don't mean prizes," he declares, yet the ad is a tie-in with The X Factor, which relies on ... points.

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INTRODUCTION:

DARREN MOORE, TV BRAND EFFECT VP AT NIELSEN, WHICH CARRIED OUT THE RESEARCH.

COMMENTARIES:

CHARLIE WRIGHT AND TARA CRAIG
COPYRIGHT 2011 William Reed Ltd.
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Title Annotation:TOP CAMPAIGNS OF THE YEAR; fast moving consumer goods
Publication:Grocer
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 17, 2011
Words:3877
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