In 2019, Kantar tested over 10,000 ads with consumers using Link creative testing, which measures an advert’s potential to deliver against short and long-term brand goals. The ads spanned three media (digital, print/out of home and TV) and 78 different countries. So which ads came out on top?
BP’s "Blind Date" (Spain), Milka’s Christmas ad "Give to those who give the most" (Germany) and HSBC’s "CSR Birmingham" (UK) are the most effective ads from around the world in 2019, according to our research. These first award winners perform in the top 4% for ability to drive short term sales, and the top 1% for long-term brand building, when measured against the Link database of over 200,000 ads analysed over the past 30 years. The winning ads are all at least twice as likely to drive sales than an average ad, and ten times more likely than a weak ad.
The winners show that distinctive creative is central to advertising success, falling in the top 15% of ads for distinctiveness in Kantar’s database. In a world flooded with content, brands need to ensure their advertising captures people’s attention.
Digital effectiveness: engage don’t enrage
Analysis of the digital category revealed the most effective ads reward the viewer with entertaining content that breaks through the ‘ad filter’ in consumers’ minds and compels them to view it. Milka’s Christmas ad "Give to those who give the most" tops the digital ad awards, demonstrating the power of storytelling for driving engagement by evoking strong emotions. The beautifully touching film, centred around a strong, seasonally relevant message of thoughtful gifting, was created in partnership with the European Union of the Deaf and promotes inclusion in a very moving way.
Print and out of home ads: spark a response in seconds
The winners here illustrate the power of creative to deliver an instant impression about the brand. Immediate impact is essential as consumers give just seconds of their time to print and out of home (OOH) ads, in which the content needs to communicate its message or hook the viewer in for longer.
HSBC evokes an immediate emotional reaction through its winning OOH execution. The shocking statistic that 1 in 45 people living in Birmingham have no address, therefore can’t have a bank account, a job, or a home, helps highlight the work the bank is doing to support the local community. The impact of the message is heightened by delivering it in situ enabled by the medium of OOH.
Top-performing TV ads tell great stories
The TV winners demonstrate the continued sales-generating and brand-building ability of broadcast content, particularly when strong distinctive assets are weaved into great emotional story telling. Crowned as Kantar’s most powerful TV ad of 2019 globally, BP’s Blind Date is a great example of how a distinctive approach to a category can create differentiation. The ad shows how a functional message can be intrinsically sewn into an amusing, brand-centric story that is quite different to what you would expect to see from the category.
There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to great content
The commonality across all the winning ads is distinctiveness, and how strongly the brand is integrated into the narrative. The winners - real consumers’ favourites - take on many forms and employ a range of creative tactics to convey their message; proving there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that can be employed to achieve great content. Interestingly, many of the winning ads in Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards are heart-warming stories or contain humour, in contrast to the broader industry trend, which is to incorporate humour less. Just over one third (34%) of 2019’s adverts were intentionally light-hearted or funny, compared to more than half (54%) of ads evaluated by Kantar in 2000.
For content to drive brand impact and deliver ROI, it must be created with the consumer in mind, by understanding what will translate best to the audience, and how. Weaving intelligent and iterative research into the creative development process ensures the strongest ideas, and most effective executions end up seeing the light of day. We know that in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic consumers want advertisers to have authentic empathy and to be useful. Achieving this creatively and sensitively is incredibly difficult, making pre-testing as important as ever.