Creativity Brand Strategy

Find out what the UK public’s most-liked TV ads were in March


By John McCarthy | Media editor

April 18, 2022 | 8 min read

Ad ranking database System1 has shared its highest-ranked UK TV ads from March. Jon Evans, chief marketing officer at System1, explains how the ad industry’s darlings aren’t always the most effective work in the eyes of the Great British public.




System1 tests ads on measures that predict long-term brand growth (star rating) and short-term sales growth (spike rating) – each between one and five stars. This is then validated using the independent IPA database and sales data.

The star rating captures the emotional response to an ad – viewers are asked what they felt about it and how strongly.

Below, Evans talks us through the top 10 performing ads in the UK in March.

10. Irn-Bru: star rating 3.2

“Irn-Bru ads are confident enough to play on the brand’s unique taste and they enjoy poking at taboos – the last few seconds here saw an uptick in Disgust among our panel, not an emotion you often find in a Top 10 ad. But a lot more of the audience felt positive, enjoying both the joke and the brand’s irreverence, and Irn-Bru is punching well above its weight on short-term impact.“

9. Diet Coke: star rating 3.6

“A roller-skating woman takes to the skies as she sips a Diet Coke in this 3-Star ad. The swing-era soundtrack gestures at the brand’s heritage while giving the ad the upbeat mood it needs to work. Not a classic by Coke’s standards, but refreshing enough to hit the emotional spot.“

8. Moonpig: star rating 3.8

“Personalized greetings card company Moonpig take advantage of Mothers’ Day sentiment with this ad in which its cute pig character helps a puzzled son get his card right. It’s a mix of stylized animation and direct calls to action with the pig providing a helpful anchor, and sparking the ad’s biggest surge in positive feeling. The exceptional short-term Spike score shows it has got the activation balance right too.“

7. McDonald's: star rating 4.2

“McDonald’s World Book Day promo co-stars Dreamworks characters in a Happy Meal offer and the ad is strongly geared to sales activation effects (as makes perfect sense for a time-limited offer). A pumping soundtrack, a bombardment of familiar stars and a very excitable voiceover make this feel more like a toy ad than a fast-food one. But the combination of the familiar brand, the likable characters and the Book Day giveaway means there’s some emotional impact too – this isn’t just an in-your-face sales ad.“

6. Walkers: star rating 4.4

“Other snack brands may be trying to poach Gary Lineker in public – meanwhile, Walkers ads can do just fine without him. Two lads get into the holiday spirit when they win EasyJet flights in the crisp brand’s latest promotion, and Walkers packs a lot into a 20-second piece. Lots of dialogue and non-verbal communication; an old school holiday hit on the soundtrack; and the set-up and payoff for a great visual joke at the end (one that Friends fans might be familiar with). Compact but highly effective.“

5. Asda: star rating 4.5

“Asda scored very well with this Mother’s Day ad – not just a sweet short story of a boy getting flowers for his Mum but a very well-branded one, with the kicker being the boy adopting the brand’s classic ’pat-the-pocket’ distinctive asset. It’s no wonder fluency and short-term impact were both exceptionally strong, making for an excellent special occasion ad.“

4. McVitie’s: star rating 4.5

“McVitie’s here shows what goes into its Blissfuls product range and makes an ad referencing the ’Oddly Satisfying’ sub-genre of YouTube videos, where films of straightforward mechanical processes (like painting a fence or moving sand) are paired with calming music to create a very chilled out experience. Those films get millions of views and last for hours – McVitie’s captures the zen vibe in 30 seconds, and it ends with a moment of togetherness to create an emotional peak.“

3. Tyrrells: star rating 4.6

“Very few of Tyrrells’ audience will ever have seen a Pathe newsreel, but the style has been absorbed into pop culture as a signifier of tongue-in-cheek poshness. Perfect for a premium crisp brand, and it has used this style of black-and-white film and color pops before, to entertaining effect. So while there’s a lot of voiceovers, the whole ad feels like a wry cultural reference, which tends to boost effectiveness. Throw a groansome pun into the mix and you have a 4-Star ad.“

2. Specsavers: star rating 5

“20 years since ’Should’ve gone to Specsavers…’ launched and people still love it. More than ever, in fact, as familiarity has bred contentment. Schadenfreude is one of the most effective types of happiness in ads, but it can be tricky to use it effectively and not seem mean. Specsavers’ genius is to give us an excuse for a chuckle at someone else’s expense. In this case, the reveal feels even harsher (and funnier) because of the excellent use of The Proclaimers to dramatize our hero’s efforts as he heaves a package up flights of stairs to the wrong door.“

1. Go Turkiye: star rating 5.5

“There’s never been a better time to be a travel ad maker. With customers planning – or just dreaming of – their first post-pandemic breaks, Go Turkiye tops our chart with a blissful holiday montage that sparks plenty of viewer joy. Key to its success are the more human moments – between parents and kids at the beach, for instance – which stop this just being a scenery showreel.“

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