Ad Ratings Round Up: August 2019

We test every ad that airs on US and UK TV across most major categories. With around 1000 ads tested each month we can’t write about them all – but we can pick out the most interesting and point out what marketers can learn about effectiveness from them.


JEEP – “Young” (US, 5-Star)

After last month’s “Summer Of Jeep” campaign with Jeremy Renner, Jeep cranks up the emotion in this 5-Star ad. They aren’t the first brand to make an ad showing a couple growing old together, and it’s a proven way of making people feel more while stressing a brand’s endurance and heritage.

But Jeep have one of the best executions of the idea we’ve seen, shifting back and forth in time to show how the outdoors life Jeep unlocks helps the couple stay in touch with the romance and joy of their youth. It’s a terrific piece of craft as well as an emotional hit, and one of the slickest 5-Star ads we’ve seen this year.

MCCAINS – “We Are Family 2019” (UK, 4-Star)

Our differences aren’t as important as what we have in common, say McCains, secure in the knowledge that whatever your race, religion, gender or sexuality you probably still like a plate of chips. It’s the kind of statement most big brands might like to make, but McCain’s gentle set of family vignettes rings truer than most “purposeful” executions. After last year’s 5-Star “Every Kind Of Love” this is another homespun winner for the brand.

BIRDS EYE – “#EatInFullColour” (UK, 4-Star)

A new campaign for Birds Eye Steamfresh frozen vegetables launches a hashtag pointing out how frozen veg often has more nutrients than produce that’s been stuck on a shelf for a while. It’s an insight the brand has tried to push in the past too – if the message gets through better this time, it’s probably down to the bunch of cute veggies who are the campaign’s stars. They’ve won the hearts of viewers in this 4-Star ad and performed more effectively than a purely message-led campaign could ever have done.


KELLOGGS FROSTED FLAKES – “Mission Tiger” (USA, 4-Stars)

It’s a funny thing, brand purpose. Just as people don’t necessarily connect brands to higher ideals, they also don’t especially care about accusations of hypocrisy. Anyone in our sample objecting to a frosted cereal flying the flag of better sports equipment in schools has been drowned out by the many more people who obviously think it’s a great idea and feel happy about Frosted Flakes doing it.

Helping the brand out is its faithful Fluent Device Tony, who raises the spirits of the sad kids and takes them on his Tiger mission. Tony is one of the all-time great (or grr-rr-rreat) brand mascots – a 4-Star result shows he’s still a strong asset for the brand.

EPSON – “Shaq Says No More Cartridges” (USA, 3-Stars)

There are no dull categories, only dull marketing, or so the old saying goes. But there are definitely categories which, let’s say, risk dullness. So printer brand Epson can be pleased with the scores on its new EcoTank campaign, though – a raft of 3-Star results.

It’s thanks to the use of Shaquille O’Neal, whose effervescent good humour brings a bit of life to these product-centric spots. Shaq won’t have come cheap, but white goods and tech brands approaching a major launch should take note of how he’s saved this campaign from being forgettable.

SAMSUNG – “Galaxy Note 10” (USA, 3-Stars)

At System1, we have a rule of thumb: “For rational ads, 3-Stars is the ceiling”. No matter how great a product, how beautifully shot an ad, if it’s relying entirely on features and messages it’s going to hit a ceiling. Samsung’s ad for the Note 10 is a great example. It’s a state-of-the-art tech ad, full of hot music and cool products, with a ton of gosh-wow features to attract customers. It just lacks a bit of heart.

Samsung can take some comfort from the fact that it doesn’t get emotion wrong. For instance, Apple ads may win the critical plaudits but they’re often so quirky or dry they fall flat with a real audience. 3-Stars for the Note 10 still beats most ads out there. But from the company that produced the brilliant 5-Star “Flying Ostrich” ad, is good really good enough?

CADILLAC – “Crew Ready” (USA, 2-Stars)

An ad that wears its strategy on its sleeve – Cadillac’s new crossover SUV can fit 7 passengers, so it’s the ideal vehicle to bring your ‘crew’ along to the ‘party’? Cue lots of very attractive young people having desirable urban fun.

Why does it only get a mediocre 2-Stars? Maybe in a market where millennials (notoriously) aren’t buying as many cars, the emphasis on youth and style is alienating to the wider buying public? Or maybe the ad is so smooth it’s forgotten to include anything for emotion to grip onto. For a 60-second spot and a major brand launch, this is not as effective as it needs to be.

GUCCI – “Harry Styles In Gucci Memoire D’Une Odeur” (UK, 1-Star)

Perfume ads are another country; they do things differently there. Harry Styles has been promoting his new LP by describing his magic mushroom trips, and some of that inspiration may have rubbed off on this Gucci spot for their new scent, with its retro flower children frolicking in soft focus to the faintly sinister accompaniment of a Roxy Music classic.

Even among perfume ads, this is heady stuff, and there’s something magnificent about its commitment to pretension. The ad-watching public take a dimmer view. Styles or no Styles, this ad has gone in a One-Star Direction.

HINGE – “The Dating App Designed To Be Deleted” (US, 1-Star)

The tech writer Clay Shirky once coined a terrific law: “Businesses will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution”. Not so, says dating app Hinge, who wants you to find true love and get rid of it. It’s a clever insight, for sure.

Unfortunately, the execution involves Hinge’s adorable fluffy mascot being stabbed, trampled, shot, exploded, and more. Do viewers see the insight? No. They see a lovely furry thing being tortured. And they don’t like it – a rock-bottom 1-Star, and an effectiveness lesson: if you’re going to create a Fluent Device people like, for heavens take treat it well.

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