Covid-19 Ads: Top 10 According to System1

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Effectiveness agency System1 has tested the effectiveness of coronavirus ads to inform brands on whether to continue advertising
Covid-19 Ads: Top 10 According to System1

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 140 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 and US during these first weeks of lockdown.

With two five-star winning spots, Covid-19 related ads are scoring sky-high, with a strong top 10 that doesn’t fall below 3.5 stars. This indicates that these ads are 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.

Russel Stover has been crowned first with 5.1 stars, a very good spike rating and just a 15 seconds ad. This shows that effective communications isn’t always expensive. By using effective creative elements brands can achieve powerful results even with a limited budget. 

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 Walmart Sam’s Club ad which came in third place with ‘Thank you all’, raising a high level of happiness among viewers. Emotions run high in these three 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 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, 4 months ago