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Creative Works Most Effective Ads of the Month System1

Ice-cream brands scoop the top UK ads in July


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

July 31, 2023 | 8 min read

Jon Evans at System1 reveals which ads most resonated with the British people in July.

Ice cream

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. 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:

The UK public is craving sweet treats, refreshing beverages, and delicious farm-to-table food in July, according to our Test Your Ad database. Noticeably absent from the list is creative promoting the Fifa Women’s World Cup.

While many brands have joined in on the tournament action, many are left-brained ads featuring voiceovers, fast-paced scenes, rhythmic soundtracks and abstracted product shots that don’t resonate as highly with the public as the mouthwatering spots below.

5. M&S Food ‘M&S Collection Honey – Farm to Foodhall’ – 4.6-Stars

Read the report.

M&S’s ‘Farm to Foodhall’ series is a masterclass in bringing a brand-building narrative to what would otherwise be a simplistic promotional advert about a retailer’s offerings.

In this edition, chef Tom Kerridge once again ventures out to a local farm to discover what goes into the food we eat – this time focussing on honey alongside beekeeper David Wainwright. Intense feelings of happiness build throughout the ad, giving M&S a strong 4.6-Star result and exceptional short-term sales potential.

4. Walls ‘Cornetto Classico’ – 4.9-Stars

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If ever there was a brand that understands the power of the jingle it’s Cornetto. Its ‘Just One Cornetto’ song, set to the tune of a famous opera song, debuted in 1982 and might well be more recognizable than the original for many.

In this humorous new ad, we see several people fighting over the ice-cream while singing the corresponding lyrics and thankfully learn there’s more Cornetto to go around. It’s an instantly familiar audio cue that helps Cornetto reinforce memory structures and achieve exceptional brand recognition and a very strong 4.9-Star score.

3. Yazoo ‘Shake it up’ – 5.1-Stars

Read the report.

Milkshake brand Yazoo launched a big new ‘Just another day with Yazoo’ this month, pitching the drink to younger consumers as a way to add a bit of fun, spontaneity and good vibes to an otherwise mundane situation. In this case, three guys sitting in a parked car re-enact the 90s as it starts lip-syncing to TLC’s 1999 hit No Scrubs (at least until a girl gets in the passenger side of her best friend’s ride and interrupts them).

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By using a classic tune Yazoo has a built-in cultural reference, and No Scrubs has a melodic hook that works better than a purely rhythmic soundtrack in driving broad-beam attention. It’s also the company’s biggest TV investment to date and one that’s poised to pay off with an exceptional 5.1-Star score.

2. Ben & Jerry’s ‘Ben & Jerry’s Sundaes: Choco-lotta Cheesecake & Dulce De-lish’ – 5.3-Stars

Read the report.

Many product-focused ads perform well in the short term but don’t have the staying power to drive brand building. Ben & Jerry’s times its latest launch well with the introduction of two new sundae flavors during the summertime.

Rather than taking the route of many ice-cream ads and showcasing someone indulging in the treat, this quick 10-second spot takes inspiration from the world of design. Viewers see a cursor drag a piping bag across the screen to add decadent chocolate whipped topping to the sundae, followed by clouds raining salted caramel swirls.

The ad hits the right tastebuds with exceptional short-term sales potential and equally strong brand-building potential.

1. Mackie’s of Scotland ‘Making simple delicious’ – 5.5-Stars

Read the report.

Many ice-cream and dessert ads lean heavily on product visuals to make an impact on audiences, appealing mostly to the narrow attention of the left brain.

While the newest commercial from Mackie’s of Scotland does incorporate a few delicious-looking shots of ice-cream scooped into bowls and alongside pudding, the 4th generation family business also layers in plenty of right-brained elements.

Mackie’s does so using different vignettes, showcasing its product being enjoyed by family members at the dinner table, friends at a backyard cookout and on a night in with friends. It’s no surprise that the comforting and relatable spot lands at the top of our list.

A train company topped last month’s list.

Creative Works Most Effective Ads of the Month System1

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