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Advertising in the Age of Covid-19: Retailers Making Gains

Opinion and Insight 69 Add to collection
System1 data has shown a number of brands gaining with Covid-19 advertising
Advertising in the Age of Covid-19: Retailers Making Gains

New data from System1 shows that a number of brands, including Aldi, Guinness, Marks and Spencer and Morrisons are creating significant long-term gains with Covid-19 related ads, at a time when many other advertisers are cutting new advertising.

Since the start of the lockdown brands globally have started releasing campaigns to support social distancing and 'Stay at Home' messages. Some other brands, however, are wondering whether it’s a good idea to keep their marketing effort going during the crisis. Effectiveness Agency System1 tested the effectiveness of over 220 Covid-19 ads to help brands decide whether to continue to advertise (if they can afford to) and how to do it successfully.

System1’s benchmarking tool Test Your Ad predicts long- and short-term effectiveness by measuring emotional response to ads. The higher the Star score, the more an ad can act as an amplifier for investment. Given equal relative investment 1-Star will lead to 0% brand growth; 3-Stars is 1%; while 5-Stars is 3%-plus. Spike Rating, on the other hand, predicts short-term sales impact and adds recognition of the brand and its assets into the mix. The higher above one Spike goes, the better – scores of 1.33 and above are considered excellent.

Based on these scores System1 compiled a top 10, listing the most impactful Coronavirus related ads in the UK during these first weeks of lockdown.

Covid-19 related ads are scoring sky-high, with a strong top 10 that barely falls below 4 stars. Compared to an usual average of two stars, Coronavirus ads in the UK are averaging three stars. This indicates that these spots are highly effective and will lead to a significant long-term growth. So, for brands (if they get the how right) advertising is still a successful investment, even in these uncertain times.

The winning Aldi’s 'Business as usual' features their strong fluent device Kevin the Carrot which is always a star-booster. The retailer’s ad also communicates a positive feeling of reassurance, telling consumers that they’re hard at work for them.

The sense of community and humanity is also strong in Marks & Spencer’s ad which came in third place with 'We’re all in this together'. Emotions run high in these winning commercials, by telling a story and reminding people that they’re not alone, they’ve achieved the best scores and ensured long-term effectiveness.

By looking at this top 10, System1 identified some dos and don’ts that can help brands communicate effectively with consumers during this crisis, while boosting their star rating.

In a time where feelings of loneliness and isolation are dominant, people are hungry for positive images of 'betweenness' and connection, and spots that reference to the local community or a well-known place are the ones that score the highest. Ads that are set in the past or in a different time also work well. Portraying the everyday small things that consumers are no longer able to do communicates a message of hope and makes them more receptive towards the brand. Fluent devices and recurring characters are also (and once again) a key element to ensure an ad’s success.

What doesn’t seem to work anymore is the 'hard sell' approach, focused on price and promotions. Rhythmic ads that rely on words, don’t reflect the current mood. People prefer to see a story unfolding, that inspires strong emotions. Vanity, competitiveness and ads focused on performance or control are also ineffective.

Jon Evans, chief marketing officer at System says: "With the majority of marketers questioning whether they can afford to Advertise at all its reassuring to see some brands achieving extraordinary results, even with limited budgets. If you can afford to advertise then there are some big potential gains to be made in share of voice. The examples from the Top 10 demonstrate that you don’t need a big production budget to make a great Ad. The most important thing is to make sure you land the right message which should emphasise the importance of community and human connection.”

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System1 Group PLC, Thu, 16 Apr 2020 13:45:00 GMT