Advertising Asia Content Marketing

The world’s most emotional ads… revealed


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January 18, 2018 | 5 min read

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Since 2013, System1’s FeelMore50 list has named and ranked each year’s most emotional ads from around the world. Emotion is always in demand for advertisers – the more people feel, the more people buy, and in a world of intense competition for attention, making people feel good gives brands an edge. For the 2017 list, 56,400 consumers rated 705 ads for emotional impact, and the results were announced in January at events in London and New York.


Belvita’s “Next Stop: Good Mornings”, the most emotional ad of 2017 in System1’s tests / Belvita

Topping the new FeelMore50 list is its first ever UK winner, Gravity Road’s digital ad for Belvita. “Next Stop: Good Mornings” shows a train guard lifting his passengers’ spirits on “Blue Monday”, the gloomiest day of the year. It certainly cheered viewers up, with the highest scores for Happiness of any ad tested.

Behind Belvita in second and third place were Japanese zipper brand YKK, with an ultra-cute animated film by Adk Asatsu DK, and a tongue-in-cheek US ad for Jameson’s Whisky by EVB, taking the mickey out of overly reverent drink ads.

See the full list here with separate rankings for individual regions, sectors and types of ad.

Let’s look at five of the big lessons for brands from this year’s list.

1. Every category is emotional

Emotional advertising can be successfully applied in any category. Take clothing zippers – surely the ultimate functional product. Japanese firm YKK showcased their brand for global customers with a charming video showing bears on a child’s top coming to life, and hit No.2 in the list. Elsewhere on the FeelMore50 there are commercials for printers, stomach pills and window cleaning fluid. “My category is functional” is no longer a good excuse for avoiding emotion.

2. Digital democratises feelgood ads

7 out of the top 10 ads in the 2017 FeelMore50 are digital-only. TV was the birthplace of emotional video advertising, but with more time and freedom, the medium is thriving online. More importantly, the lower media costs for digital advertising are giving more brands the chance to make brilliant emotional work. Since the FeelMore50 began, the most frequently appearing advertisers are FMCG giants like Coke, Pepsi and Mars. In 2017, they accounted for less of the list than ever.

3. In a crazy world, make people smile

The FeelMore50 list is unique in having no industry input – it’s based purely on the results of research testing. That makes it a powerful barometer of what really makes people happy. In 2017, advertising took place against the backdrop of political upheaval: Donald Trump’s presidency, turmoil in the EU, and threats of war. The worthy “social experiment” ads pioneered in the early ‘10s by Dove and Always became less effective at making the public feel good. Brands weren’t any less liberal, but in 2017 it was better to present social causes with a light touch – like the eco-warrior “Hero’s Journey” ad for Kia starring Melissa McCarthy, or Lamb Australia’s celebration of Aussie diversity.

4. Don’t be afraid of cultural and national stereotypes

Hand in hand with political turmoil comes a fresh awareness of cultural differences and national traits. The FeelMore50 list shows advertisers don’t have to be afraid of these, if they’re presented with love, humour and self-knowledge. The FeelMore50 Top 10 features uptight Brits, romantic French couples, hospitable Canadians and soccer-playing Brazilians. Even in a globalised world, it pays to flatter your markets’ images of themselves.

5. It’s ok to be obvious

Some ads in the FeelMore50 are award-winners. But many are crowd-pleasers, happy to push emotional buttons with broad appeal. Think cute kids, adorable animals, big tunes and popular celebrities. Such devices might make snobbish creatives shudder. But they help audiences feel great about a brand. One of the most effective creative techniques is the ‘Fluent Device’ – a recurring character or slogan which brands can build campaigns around. From Pedigree’s puppy athletes to Heathrow Airport’s Christmas Bears, brands who created and used such devices reaped emotional rewards in 2017.

Emotional advertising builds brands, creating long-term profitable growth. Wherever you are in the world, Emotional creativity drives the bottom line. System1’s is a great place to look for emotional inspiration as you plan your 2018 /19 campaigns.

Tom Ewing, Head Of Communications, System1 Group


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