What do Iron Man, Barbie, skeletons, a scale, and the word “and” have in common?
Each are central characters or symbols in some of the most viral emotive ads of 2015. Using words like “empowering,” “positive,” “moving,” inspirational,” “touching,” and “uplifting” to describe them, consumers forwarded, shared, and celebrated ads from The Ad Council, Gillette, Mattel, Lean Cuisine and Microsoft, making them five of the top viral emotive ads of 2015.
What did these five ads have in common? According to analysis by Ace Metrix, they appealed to people of all ages, genders and other demographic breaks in spite of the product or subject matter; they delivered messages that consumers overwhelmingly named as the “best thing about the ad;” they scored extremely high emotional and likability scores; and they changed consumers’ perceptions.
While brands attempting to make an emotional connection with consumers is nothing new, this trend could be seen taking firm root in many of the 2015 Super Bowl ads, often a beacon of broader trends. As the graphic below depicts, inspirational/emotional messages took a big bite out of humorous ads in 2015 after being virtually non-existent as recently as 2012.
How did “Love Has No Labels,” “#UseYourAnd,” “Imagine the Possibilities,” “#WeighThis,” and “Robert Downey Jr. Delivers a Real Bionic Arm” become viral hits? By creating messages that consumers could get behind: authentic messages that support positivity and empowerment and speak to meaningful issues that motivate consumers, regardless of demographic background, to share and champion.
Ad Council: “Love Has No Labels”
In March, the Ad Council created content gold with the poignant spot, “Love Has No Labels,” which was quick to go viral and drive powerful feelings of admiration. Produced by R/GA, the 3:19 video showed high breakthrough capability in testing, with outstanding scores in likability and attention. With broad appeal across gender and age, this ad delivered on emotional sentiment, coming in 50 percent higher than the norm for PSAs on this scale. One viewer commented, “I think it is groundbreaking, powerful, eye-opening, beautiful and breathtaking…It should be played everywhere!”
Gilette Venus’ “#UseYourAnd”
Gillette Venus also experienced viral success across gender groups this year with its female empowerment spot “#UseYourAnd,” created by BBDO. This encouraging ad also performed well in attention and likability measures, but was powered by its ability to change brand perception and break away from past advertising (18 percent above category norm for communicating change.) This ad also drove a high sense of admiration, and users often used words such as “empowering,” “inspiring,” “powerful,” and “uplifting” to describe it. One male 36-49 viewer commented: “Fantastic ad; I have a little girl and want her to be all she can be…without people labeling her.”
Mattel/Barbie’s “Imagine the Possibilities”
Following the “girl power” theme is Mattel’s recent Barbie ad, “Imagine the Possibilities,” also created by BBDO. This ad garnered two of the highest scores ever seen in testing for attention and likability, 36 percent and 44 percent, respectively, above toy-category norms. Out of thousands of TV and digital ads measured by Ace Metrix this year, only two have scored higher for likability. One viewer commented, “As a father with a young daughter, I love the message that this ad sends.”
Lean Cuisine’s “#WeighThis”
Lean Cuisine shifted away from the typical “diet” ad in 2015, working with 360i to create the viral hit “#Weigh This.” In testing, this ad proved to be driven by relevance, a clear indicator that the message is something most people can relate to. Brand perception change was a clear driver for success as well, with a score 11 percent above the category norm. Proving the brand reached men and women alike on an emotional level, one male viewer said, “Wow, incredibly powerful!” Another male viewer stated, “This is a very emotional ad – captivating. I hope it’s seen by many.”
Microsoft Office’s “The Collective Project: Robert Downey Jr. Delivers a Real Bionic Arm”
Highlighting the potential of technology to empower, Microsoft Office’s “The Collective Project: Robert Downey Jr. Delivers a Real Bionic Arm” is an emotionally driven viral ad that also capitalized on celebrity fandom. What is remarkable about this ad is that it is powered equally by high scores in information, change, attention, and likability. In addition to grabbing attention and being liked, common characteristics of other ads we’ve discussed here, it served to relay information people were interested in and changed brand perception. Performing well across every demographic, this ad also struck an emotional chord by coming in 63 percent above the category norm for emotional sentiment.
While there will always be a place for humor and mind-blowing visuals in the world of viral video ads, it’s clear that this year, brands “used their and” to create likable, relevant, emotionally driven ads that grabbed attention and changed perceptions.
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