Ad Ratings At IIEX: When Your Fluent Device Retires

It’s no secret that at System1 we are huge believers in the power of Fluent Devices – characters or scenarios which can form the creative backbone of a campaign, driving the story of ad after ad. A great Fluent Device works because it builds emotional response and immediate brand recognition at the same time.

Diana Hunter, star of Post Consumer Brands’ ads for Honey Bunches Of Oats, is a great Fluent Device: warm, memorable, instantly charismatic. Here’s one of her ads:

She’s also – unlike many Fluent Devices – a real person. Diana worked for Honey Bunches Of Oats for 40 years and her natural, authentic star quality made her into a key brand asset. But all good things come to an end.

Diana is just as likeable as ever – but she’s now retired, which created a problem for Post that Chester Cheetah or the Jolly Green Giant never presented their brands with. What do you do when your star moves on?

This was the central question in our workshop at IIEX with Post’s Logan Moorse and System1 Ad Ratings’ Jocelyn Simon. Post are an Ad Ratings subscriber, which gives them a big advantage in looking to navigate life after Diana and build on her success as a brand icon.

With Ad Ratings, Post can see how well new campaigns and approaches are working the day after each ad airs. This speed, Moorse told the IIEX crowd, was invaluable – cutting the response time to a campaign from months to days. It creates more room to be agile and try new ideas out.

Bedding in a replacement for a beloved campaign can take time and patience, and Ad Ratings gives you a category benchmark to work against.

For IIEX, we created a special one-time-only account for Ad Ratings which let the audience see some of what Logan Moorse and his colleagues see. We then asked them to crowd-source some ideas for ways Post could build on and move on from the “Diana” campaign.

The results showed another facet of Ad Ratings – the ability to see what’s working right now in your category, giving you up-to-date category codes at your fingertips.

For one participant, breakfast seemed like a vulnerable, intimate time and the worst-performing ads (not by Post!) told against that by starring brash, over-confident people. Another noted how strongly family-oriented ads seemed to do in the category, and spotted opportunities in that.

What the session proved is that data by itself can be interesting. But to activate data you need to bring human interpretation to bear on it in the service of solving a specific problem. When we built Ad Ratings we had some ideas about what problems it might solve – but we’re learning from our subscribers, like Post, all the time, as they find new ways it works for them.

As for Diana, she agreed to make a cameo in a 2018 campaign, which got very positive Ad Ratings results, combining the best of the older and newer Post approaches. If you’ve retired your own Fluent Device, bringing it back for a curtain call might be one of the best decisions you can make.

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