Creativity Creative Works System1

Most effective US ads in September, featuring Quaker Oats, Nike and Hyundai

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By Audrey Kemp | Junior Reporter

September 30, 2022 | 7 min read

What do Eli Manning and Lucky the Leprechaun have in common? Well, they both appear in one of September’s most effective ads.

a family in a car with a dog

Hyundai's new ad certainly isn't a dog. / Credit: Hyundai

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 five-star rating system that factors in a broad set of data to answer these questions.

Below, the brand consultancy’s chief customer officer, Jon Evans, talks us through the ads that received the highest ratings this past month, explaining why they stood out from the crowd.

5. State Farm ‘Bath Bomb’

Star rating: 3.3

“Football star Patrick Mahomes reveals his love of bath bombs in this quirky State Farm ad, which suggests that Mahomes has misunderstood the “personal” in Personal Price Plan. Yes, it’s an excuse to talk about the product, but at least the brand is having some fun with it and the joke lands well to end up with a 3.3-star ad. Like most light-hearted insurance ads, the trick is to balance the product detail and the fun, human elements and State Farm gets the balance right again here.”

4. General Mills ‘Saving Magic’

Star rating: 3.8

“Magic is disappearing from the world of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun, but fortunately all is not lost in this part of an ongoing advertising storyline. On its own, it’s basically just an opportunity to show the Lucky Charms mascot cavorting around and remind the audience of his colorful product. It does this job with aplomb, scoring a very solid 3.8 stars, with exceptional short-term “spike” and “brand fluency” measures. Good results for a very branding-focused commercial.”

3. Quaker Oats ‘Oat Up!’

Star rating: 3.8

“This ad makes extremely good use of its guest star, football legend Eli Manning, who finds himself at the mercy of the most fearsome coach of all, his kid neighbor. We’ve found in various studies of ads that use celebrities that probably the most effective way to employ them is to ask them to be an exaggerated or humorous version of themselves. Manning fits that bill - the joke is he’s forced into training for this tiny tyrant because he’s too scared to tell her he’s actually retired. There’s strong branding and good execution, with the first few seconds played entirely straight before the young ‘coach’ appears. One of the best recent celebrity ads.”

2. Nike ‘Serena Legacy’

Star rating: 4.5

“What an astonishing career Serena Williams has had. And Nike have been with her through most of the way, making one of the most successful sports brand partnerships of all time. This isn’t the first time Serena has starred in a Nike ad. Her appearance in their “Dream crazy” campaign shortly after the Colin Kaepernick ad controversy helped tilt viewer opinion back in Nike’s favor, for example. But this new ad is truly about Serena with Nike themselves taking a back seat and letting the tennis superstar begin to define her legacy and her post-sport career. Not the strongest branding on a Nike ad, but a beautifully executed tribute to a legend and to a partnership the brand has truly benefited from.”

1. Hyundai ‘Chewy’

Star rating: 5.0

“Our top September ad is Hyundai’s car ad that swiftly piques viewer happiness and stays there. The cause? A cute dog, who a family finds as a puppy and who stays with them every mile of their ongoing journey. The conceit of having the dog age alongside the car works well, emphasizing the lasting relationships we have with our cars as well as our pets. It’s a great example of why animals can be such an asset to an ad. Use them well and tie them into the message and they will bring you plenty of delighted attention.”

Methodology

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.

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