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Creative Works Most Effective Ads of the Month Marketing

Humor prevails in UK’s 5 favorite TV ads in May

By Julia Becker, Reporter

June 7, 2023 | 8 min read

Jon Evans at System1 talks about the use of humor in ads as part of its research into the real ads that were most enjoyed by real people in May.

Woodsman’s new Barry the Beaver character

UK’s 5 favourite TV ads in May

Each month, hundreds of new TV ads launch in the UK. Marketing research and effectiveness company System1 analyzes the latest creative to test which spots resonated most with the public. In May, System1 chief marketing officer Jon Evans, explains that humorous ads are still among the most popular ones.

How it works

System1 tests ads on measures that predict long-term brand growth (star rating) and short-term sales growth (spike rating) – each between one and six stars. These measures are validated using the independent Institute of Practitioners in Advertising database and against real sales data at a category level.

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What Evans says

Humor in advertising is dead?? Luckily nobody told our May Ads Of The Month – four out of this month’s five top-performing commercials are out to make audiences laugh. Whether it’s a cheeky reference to a competitor’s products or the antics of a hapless wombat, these brands understand that humor is a brilliant way of getting attention and building positive long-term associations.

5. Aldi – ‘#CuthParty’ – 4.3 stars

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The Great Caterpillar Wars of the early 20s deserve a place in future marketing textbooks. Aldi has taken its legal battles with M&S over the brands’ caterpillar cakes and turned it into a cheeky running joke in their advertising, allowing them to present Aldi as fun-loving and on the side of the ordinary shopper during a cost-of-living crisis. It means they can take a price comparison ad – typically one of the driest formats around – and make it a surreal and hilarious sketch about a caterpillar cake party. And audiences really enjoy it, with a strong 4.3-star score, partly because it’s one of the few ads which has a pop at a rival brand without feeling mean.

4. Morrisons ‘More Reasons to Shop at Morrisons – Café’ – 4.6 stars

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As Aldi shows, retailers are getting the hang of making cost-of-living ads promoting deals and cheap prices that entertain audiences too. Here’s another one, a fun slice-of-life ad with two elderly ladies enjoying a Morrisons breakfast in the store cafe. The ad ends with a shout-out to the cheap deal on offer – but really it’s about celebrating friendship. It’s an ad with great comic timing and lovely human connection and a solid example of how to put the spotlight on older customers without being patronizing.

3. Compare the Market – ‘Chili Soup’ – 4.7 stars

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Carl the Wombat’s second appearance for Compare the Market does even better than his first, showing that audiences are happy to accept this biologically doubtful addition to the meerkat family. Tinkering with the formula or cast list of a long-running campaign is fraught with risk, but get it right and you can refresh your ads and add new dimensions to a familiar idea. Here Carl’s incompetent antics remind viewers that rushing a decision without researching it is a deeply unwise move.

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2. The Woodsman Whisky – ‘Hard Working Beavers’ – 4.8 stars

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Carl’s not the only cuddly critter in this month’s line-up, though the Woodsman’s new Barry the Beaver character is a great deal better at his job. Barry’s building a hot tub for his family in an ad that steps outside the usual category codes of whisky ads and ends up being the most effective we’ve ever tested at 4.8 stars. A triumph for the Whyte & Mackay brand and a new mascot we’ll surely be seeing plenty more of.

1. Guide Dogs – ‘Gift in Will’ – 4.8 stars

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In a month dominated by funny ads, our winner takes a more serious approach – it's a 4.8-star spot for the Guide Dogs charity, encouraging older donors to consider leaving a bequest to Guide Dogs in their wills. Charity ads have a habit of emphasizing the negative in order to shock or sadden people into donating. It can work dramatically well in the short term but as a brand-building strategy, it has a serious disadvantage, as people associate the brand unconsciously with negative and uncomfortable feelings. So charities that routinely stress the positive impact of their work, like Guide Dogs do, make more effective advertising in the long term.

Watch the best ads of April here, where lots of movement, fresh air, and fun was portrayed.

Creative Works Most Effective Ads of the Month Marketing

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