Best Ads for August: New Balance, Gatorade and Hershey’s
What makes an ad resonate with its target audience? What are the factors that can help an ad leave a lasting impression in the minds of its viewers? System1 has developed a star rating system that factors in a broad set of data to answer these questions. Jon Evans, chief customer officer at System1, told us which ads received the highest ratings this past month – and why they stood out from the crowd.
Hershey’s listed in System1’s top five best ads for August / Credit: Hershey's
System1 tests ads on measures that predict long-term brand growth (star rating) and short-term sales growth (spike rating) – each between 1 and 5 stars. These measures are validated using the independent IPA database and also against real sales data at a category level.
The star rating captures the emotional response to an ad. Only 1% of ads on the system score 5 stars. A 1-star ad will have zero effect on brand growth, while a 5-star ad will have an exceptional impact (up to three points of market share gain, depending on investment). Often the work that receives the highest ratings comes as a surprise to everyone.
5) Corona – ‘Rhymes’
Star rating: 3.5
Corona isn’t the first brand to use Snoop Dogg in its ads, but the beer makes particularly good use of the rapper’s smoother-than-smooth persona by pairing him with former SNL cast member Andy Samberg. This is another in the brand’s beach-set ads in which the cool Snoop tries to get the awkward Samberg to relax a little.
There’s lots of humor and interaction to tickle the right brain, though the ads aren’t for everyone given their negative undercurrent. Still, they are strong performers, and this one (with Samberg trying to rap) landed a very good 3.5-star score and exceptional short-term activation potential.
Corona knows how to use celebrities well. Get them to play larger-than-life versions of their public personas and you’ll get the most out of the short time you have with them.
4) Amazon – ‘A Girl’s Letter to the Future’
Star rating: 3.8
By utilizing Amazon Prime’s A League of Their Own to make a wider point about girls’ baseball and the dreams of young (and old) athletes, this ad pulls off a strong and inspiring emotional arc from sadness to pride and happiness. The central visual – a baseball field with balls spelling out the girls’ words – is a powerful one.
The only issues lie with the branding: 30 seconds of ads for other Prime series after the main commercial ends dilutes the impact somewhat and leads to a lower-than-expected ‘brand fluency’ and short-term ‘spike’ score.
3) New Balance – ‘Comfort You Need’
Star rating: 4.5
A sportswear ad, shot in Britain, featuring British kids playing soccer that’s airing in the US on channels running the English Premier League. Even if soccer is not one of their national sports, the US audience likes the vibe of this confident, cheerful ad, and the feeling of friendship and fun that pervades it. Maybe the soccer element makes it a bit more appealing as it’s slightly unusual.
In any case, a good 3.9 stars for a simple ad with plenty of heart and charm.
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2) Gatorade – ‘All For Fun’
Star rating: 4.8
Gatorade’s beautifully-executed, 4.8-star ad mixes two successful styles of commercial. It blends older sports stars with up-and-coming new athletes, which offers viewers both a nostalgic look back to youth and a montage of inspirational sporting moments. Both are winning themes for ads, and the combination works extremely well for Gatorade as part of its inclusivity-driven ‘Fuel the Future’ platform.
The link between past and present is music, with Ahmad’s 90s hit Back in the Day acting as a very on-topic soundtrack. But the way the visuals flow perfectly to the cuts and scratches of the track makes what could have been a very busy-looking ad feel organic and very cool.
1) Hershey’s – ‘Sign Language’
Star rating: 5.5
The only story-driven ad in our list also gets our only 5-star score – a winning combination of a popular brand and an inclusive, heartwarming plot. The spot tells the story of a kid who teaches himself sign language so he can ask if a fellow pupil with hearing difficulties wants to share his Hershey bar.
There have been a few successful ads with sign language as a theme, including another 5-Star Hormel ad in 2019 with a similar storyline, and they usually do well. Sign language is both a marker of difference – so the ad can make a point about inclusion and celebrate people with disabilities – and a great visual gift to storytellers who often want to create wordless short stories in ads.
The execution in Hershey’s variation on this theme is top-notch, compressing a story into a very short film and even managing to include a joke or two. A great addition to Hershey’s roster of 5-star ads.