The pull of a pint

Tesco and Burger King serve up an advertising masterclass of Surprise, Happiness and national pride.

In England, many people had April 12th 2021 circled in their calendars as the date pubs could open for the first time this year. It was also the day Tesco launched a rather surprising static advertising campaign. Rather than encouraging us to shop at their stores, it urges readers to ‘Pop into your local’ pub.

This unusual altruistic approach first caught our eye during the March-July 2020 lockdown when a Burger King static campaign asked us to ‘Order from McDonald’s’ to support the foodservice sector by ordering a delivery, takeaway or drive-thru from their competitors. Both these ads seem contrary to all we know about the purpose of advertising. Yet they have achieved some of the highest ratings for static ads in ‘Test Your Ad’ analysis we have ever seen at System1. So how do ads urging us to go to another brand in the case of Burger King, or an entire category like Tesco work for the advertiser? And does it have any chance of delivering profitable growth?

It’s all about emotion

Our predictive ad testing solution ‘Test Your Ad’ uses emotions to evaluate a campaign’s ability to drive long-term market share growth (Star Rating) and deliver short-term sales potential (Spike Rating). The strength of brand recognition is reflected in the Fluency Rating. Combined, this powerful trio of metrics predicts any campaign’s potential market share gain over the next 12 months. By benchmarking the results against the thousands of ads we’ve tested over the years, we can help advertisers improve their creative executions. This means campaigns have the best chance of delivering a significant return on investment from advertising spend – with zero marketing waste as a result.

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Tapping into the national mood

Comparing the two executions here, Tesco comes out top, scoring an ‘Exceptional’ 5.2 Star Rating. This equates to a predicted 3% market share gain over the next 12 months. Burger King’s less visual approach scores a ‘Strong’ 4.2 Star Rating, which we predict could deliver a 2% market share gain. These high Star scores for both brands are exceptional for static ads. They prove that brands tapping into the national sentiment at times of crisis can both encourage people to buy their products and add to their long-term brand equity – even if those campaigns tell us to go to another brand to meet our needs, in this case for a beer or a burger.

‘Every little helps’ lifts Tesco’s performance above Burger King’s

We used ‘Face Trace’ technology to see the emotion the ads generated on people’s faces. Both generated high levels of Surprise and Happiness, but Tesco’s subtle use of its ‘Every Little Helps’ gave the ad the edge on altruism of the two, leaving people feeling uplifted and ‘pleased for others’. Burger King’s small logo – which a few respondents missed entirely – scored it lower. 

Ben Walton our CCO is passionate about this approach, and he says: “There’s been much cynicism about how some brands have manipulated the national mood in their ad campaigns during the pandemic. These megabrands have shown that it is possible to break the mould. Their brave, bold, and altruistic ads hit the right tone at the right time. And although they promote competitors, they have the potential to deliver an increase in market share gain for both brands. Although Tesco ultimately wins in our test, both are exceptional executions and deeply clever. Tesco’s visually powerful image of a mouth-watering cold beer not only gets our taste buds popping after long months of lockdown, but the final ‘Every little helps’ message adds so much positive brand emotion that we’re just as likely to go to Tesco as we are the pub after seeing this ad. It’s genius.”

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