Aardman Give Thatchers An Effectiveness Glow-up


Perfection in every drop.


A strong family or local heritage can be a major branding asset. It’s a huge selling and storytelling point – lifetimes of craft, tradition, and expertise that underwrite a top-quality product. It’s natural to want to put that on screen.

But just as there are clear benefits to heritage, there are obvious risks. Going big on heritage means you’re talking a lot about yourself. In ads as in life, going on about yourself is not always appreciated. And a lot of heritage ads are a bit… boring.

Here’s one that isn’t. In fact, Thatchers Cider (with agency Bray Leino and multi-award-winning independent studio Aardman) have created an ad so charming, entertaining and engaging that at 4.7-Stars it’s the best cider ad on the whole Test Your Ad database. At 4.7-Stars it’s also the most effective ad we’ve ever tested for an independent beer or cider brand.

So what’s the secret? It’s all about the animation.

The basic elements of the Thatchers ad aren’t new. In fact the firm has been making ads using these ingredients for several years – founder Martin Thatcher; his family; the Somerset countryside; the big barn doors; the hot air balloon; even Myrtle the Dog. It’s a popular formula that’s resulted in solidly good ads – Thatchers have an enviable string of 3-Star commercials, putting them well ahead of most drinks brands.

But until now they’ve never made that push into 4-Star effectiveness territory. We see this a lot at System1 – a “3-Star ceiling” for ads that are mostly rational, factual, voiceover-heavy and benefits-based. To break through the ceiling and entertain for commercial gain, you need to do something a little different. In this case, bringing in Aardman.

To get why an animated ad performs better here let’s look at what Will Studd, who directed the ad for Aardman, has to say: “As a paid-up cider enthusiast, I am drinking in the opportunity to bring the Thatchers family, farm, dog, and selected staff members to life with detailed puppets and sets.”

Now if you think about it that might sound odd. The family, farm and staff are all real: how do you bring them to life? But that’s exactly why the ad works so well. Animation can make real people seem even more vividly alive by magnifying their real gestures, expressions and actions. It’s why animated characters and puppets are so good at catching the broad-beamed attention of the right brain (associated with higher effectiveness, as Orlando Wood shows in Look Out).

Aardman’s beautiful animation lets the ad creators turn the Thatchers business into a gentle countryside fantasy, a world viewers can escape into for 30 seconds with the promise of a refreshing pint at the end of it. It’s no wonder it scores so well, with an Exceptional short-term Spike Rating too. It’s a fine example of how tweaking the creative approach while building on established assets and brand personality can let a brand level up in effectiveness.

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