- Dawn’s “Dawn Helps Clean Wildlife” was rated the most powerful ad for Q3, according to an Ace Metrix analysis that measured 57 different reactions or emotions in ads, including heartfelt, nostalgia, humor and others. Also in the top five are Chick-Fil-A’s “Rewarding Service,” Ford’s “Hard Workers,” Nike’s “Do It :60” and Fedex’s “Tortoise & Hare.” Fewer than 12% of ads in the Ace Metrix database were rated as powerful.
- The most inspiring ads for Q3 are Strayer University’s “Never Stop Growing,” Nike’s “Just Do It – Serena Williams,” Boeing “Experiences,” Nike’s “Dream Crazy 2:00” and State Farm’s “Wish You Were Here.” Fewer than 9% of the ads analyzed were considered inspiring.
- The ads rated as the funniest include Southwest’s “Get Away :15,” Geico’s “Great Hands,” Gain’s “Dad Wins,” Jack-in-the-Box “Jack’s Bowls” and Ore-Ida’s “Introducing Ore-Ida Potato Pay.”
At a time when consumers are expecting more from brands — that they take a stance on social issues, support causes or help foster consumer identity — the Ace Metrix analysis shows that most marketers are missing the mark when it comes to making an emotional connection. The low number of ads listed as powerful, funny or inspiring underpins how important it is for markers to make some kind of emotional connection with consumers in order to build brand loyalty. However, when brands get it right, the resulting emotional response from consumers is impressive. Several of the ads in this analysis ranked in the 99th percentile for sparking an emotional response based on the content being powerful, inspiring or funny, a level that is rarely achieved, per Ace Metrix.
The analysis offers a few instructive examples for marketers looking to heighten emotional response in future. The top-rated Dawn ad received high scores for attention and likeability, and the “tough-on-grease” message had the highest positive purchase intent. The Chick-Fil-A “Rewarding Service” ad left a positive impression on viewers by highlighting something they didn’t know about the brand.
Stories of achieving a dream in the face of adversity drew strong emotional comments from viewers, including “courageous,” “empowering” and “dream can come true,” according to the analysis. The ads were also highly visual and featured characters, like professional athletes, to deepen the emotional connection. For example, Strayer University’s top-rated inspiring ad featured Queen Latifah and leveraged her commencement speech to draw attention to an important life event. The ad grabbed attention and built brand credibility.
About 25% of the ads included some type of humor, with viewers' comments about the ads including descriptions like “cracked me up,” “hilarious” and “laughed out loud.” Humor can be tough to get right, as messaging has to be universally appealing and non-polarizing, per Ace Metrix. The report points to Southwest’s “Get Away” campaign, which was the most likable and least polarizing.
Marketers should also keep in mind that emotional appeals in marketing can go too far, especially when targeting younger consumers. A separate Ace Metrix study released in March found that millennials want brands to stand for something beyond sentimentality and aren’t always receptive to ads that suggest that they be part of a solution to problems or embody a brand’s values. Ads that communicate a brand’s values, referred to in the study as “smart heart ads,” landed best with millennials.