2018: The Year In Review

In the Marketing and Insights industries, 2018 was a wild year. At System1 we like to put the focus on the work marketers create and the Fame, Feeling and Fluency it builds for their brands. Here’s our year in review – the most popular pieces from The1, our weekly mailout celebrating 5-Star Marketing.

THE BIGGEST ADS OF THE YEAR: Our #1 piece looked at the response to Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad, which dominated marketing conversations in September. Would the controversy translate into long-term brand growth? We’re saying yes – but perhaps not quite as much as the brand would hope.

History repeated a couple of months later with Iceland’s controversial UK Christmas ad. Our tests showed that as an anti-palm oil PSA it was a real winner – as a brand-building ad, though, the dominant negative emotions may not help Iceland in the long run. We looked at the adthrough the lens of a growing global sustainability movement.

TEST EVERYTHING, ASSUME NOTHING: Our own biggest news of 2018 was the launch of System1 Ad Ratings, the subscription service which rates every US and UK TV ad in over 100 categories, giving a true picture of market effectiveness vs spend. Gabriel Aleixo explained the service ahead of launch in our #4 piece. In November we opened the site for business and demonstrated the insights to be gained with ten different case studies.

NAVIGATING A CHANGING WORLD: All marketers are facing a rapidly changing environment and many of our top pieces offered advice and examples for dealing with new trends. Our #3 piece broke down the trend towards 6-second ads, and we also offered tips on the rise of private labels, and on making new brands more fluent and familiar. Oh, and pointers on how to think about trends themselves!

FLUENT DEVICES (AND OTHER INNOVATIONS): We were proud to be one of the top innovative suppliers in this year’s GRIT survey, and we’re very proud of our continued association with the IPA, delivering ground-breaking research into effectiveness using the Ad Ratings database as a basis. As well as Ad Ratings, this year we did more work on Fluent Devices and continued to develop our Fame, Feeling and Fluency model of brand success. Technology matters for innovation in research, but mainly because it lets us automate and scale up the work of predicting business outcomes.

THE STATE OF THE INSIGHT NATION: Some of our most popular content was our analysis of lessons from industry events – like ESOMAR (our #2 piece), IIEX  and the IPA Effectiveness Awards. This year we also debuted our new stall at TMRE, serving up dangerously strong cocktails in System1 pink. We’ll be on the conference trail again in 2019, speaking at IIEX Europe and North America, Impact 2019 in London, ESOMAR LatAm, and many more. Come and say hello!

THE YEAR IN FEELING MORE: We kicked off 2018 with our fifth annual FeelMore50, the global list of the world’s most emotional ads – congratulations to Belvita, our first UK winner. We also ran our FeelMore LIVE Super Bowl testing and the Xmas ads ranking. The big 2019 list is running a bit later this year, but don’t worry – we’ll be back with a better-than-ever Super Bowl event and our first ever Chinese New Year ranking!

SPARKLING CASE STUDIES: We love putting together case studies for our readers and clients. Our most successful ones this year spanned our main practice areas. An innovation studylooking at weird food trends in the US (look out for a soon-come follow-up), a branding studyexploring the continued fallout of the VW “Dieselgate” scandal in its German homeland, and an advertising study recreating the biggest night in UK commercial TV history, ad by ad.

PRACTISING WHAT WE PREACH: Our System1 Agency had a great year too, putting together campaigns for the UK’s Clean Up Britain organisation and America’s CH Wine among others. If we had to pick a favourite, though, it would be our texting-and-driving PSA, There’s No Next If You Text, a powerfully emotional film which attracted industry-wide attention.

AND FINALLY… JUST DAMN GOOD MARKETING: But let’s face it, what we like best in The1 is often simply geeking out over great examples of marketing. Like these fantastic ads we picked for International Women’s Day. Or our Top 5 World Cup ads. Or amazing use of distinctive assets, like Coke’s Share A Coke or this brilliant use of the McDonalds ‘yellow arches’ – our #3 post of the year. Or, finally, our editor’s personal favourite ads of the year, the magnificent “Long Long Man” series by Japan’s Sakeru Gummy.

We aren’t going to make many predictions for 2019 – but we are sure it’ll be full of more strange, imaginative and beautiful examples of marketing creativity. And with Ad Ratings and The1, we’ll be there to test and celebrate it every week.

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