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By Jon Evans | Chief marketing officer

August 2, 2022 | 5 min read

Ad-ranking database System1 has shared its highest-ranked UK TV ads from July. 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. These measures are validated using the independent Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) database and against real sales data at a category level.

July’s top ads

5) Direct Line: King Valkyrie’s Time Off

Star rating: 3.6

The release of Marvel’s latest Thor film is the cue for Direct Line to borrow Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie character and drop her into an unfamiliar setting – the English seaside.

Once Valkyrie’s holiday begins the ad takes off, with plenty of surprise and happiness at her antics.

Using characters from other media can be a distraction for a brand, but here the link to the insurance company remains strong, with good short-term spike and brand fluency scores backing up a solid 3.6-star rating.

Report here.

4) Yorkshire Tea: Tina’s Leaving Do

Star rating: 3.9

Following Sean Bean’s turn giving a motivational team talk in the office, here’s another great use of a celebrity from Yorkshire Tea.

Yorkshire-born Sir Patrick Stewart treats a startled staffer to the most Shakespearian leaving speech ever, before heading off down the pub.

Stewart claims the ad is one of the highlights of his career – whether you believe that or not, it’s another very popular entry in the brand’s ‘Where Everything’s Done Proper’ campaign, which continues to masterfully balance tongue-in-cheek comedy and local pride.

Report here.

3) M&S: Tom Kerridge’s Remarksable Value Meal Planner

Star rating: 4.0

With inflation at highs not seen for a generation, it’s no surprise retailers feel the need to address rising prices and the cost-of-living crisis.

But it’s a tricky topic to tackle. Customers don’t always want to be reminded that they’re feeling the pinch, and may not appreciate it coming from the very retailers that are (in their eyes) putting prices up.

M&S gets the right approach by using chef Tom Kerridge to deliver the positive message – M&S wants to help families, so is putting together meal planners to do it and keeping prices locked.

The combination of Kerridge’s friendly voice, the reassuring sounds of Fleetwood Mac and some signature ‘food porn’ product shots mean this is another 4-star success for M&S. Other retailers hoping to address the issue in a positive way should take note.

Report here.

2) Cathedral City: Make it Better Cheddar

Star rating: 4.1

‘Make It Better Cheddar’ is a major new campaign for the UK’s top cheese brand, with £5m earmarked just for year one.

It’s got off to an excellent start on its launch ad, in which a young boy asks his dad where cheddar comes from, and an unusual visitor proves more than happy to ‘cowsplain’ it.

The talking cows are a hit, and the surreal and comic tone is the spoonful of sugar that helps the more factual material on cheese nutrition and welfare standards go down.

Report here.

1) Maltesers: Feed Your Dark Side

Star rating: 4.2

Maltesers have developed a distinctive style of ad that regularly does well with viewers – friends are chatting while they munch Maltesers, with one of them making a somewhat naughty joke.

It’s an approach that celebrates female friendship, while also positioning Maltesers as a snack to share and relax with.

‘Feed Your Dark Side’ is promoting the new dark Maltesers variant, but despite the title’s suggestion of wickedness, this latest vignette is very much along the usual Malteser lines – funny, the teensiest bit shocking, but not actually bad.

There’s no particular uplift in viewer happiness for the punchline, but the whole friendly vibe goes across extremely well and helps the brand get our top score this month.

Report here.

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