At a time when purpose-driven advertising is a clear trend, the Ace Metrix report — the company’s first attempt at measuring the cultural impact of ads — points out the benefits and challenges of this approach by scoring brands in terms of the “most empowering” for socially conscious and purpose-driven messaging, with the least chance of a negative reaction. The scoring gauges an ad message’s positive impact for encouraging, inspiring and motivating, and quantifies any negative impact from stereotyping, pandering, objectification, glorification, a portrayal of racism or sexism, or portrayal of a irrelevant cause.
Ace Metrix said the results highlight risks with purpose-driven ads, even when a topic seems neutral and apolitical. For example, only one of the top 10 empowering ads contained no level of exploit: Citibank’s “Why Does Citi Sponsor Team USA?” Less than 0.1% of the ads surveyed earned the highest scores and are listed in the top 10.
“It’s not uncommon for purpose driven ads seeking cultural impact to meet some level of risk,” said Peter Daboll, Ace Metrix CEO, in the press release. “Ads can be both positive and negative depending on message and viewer. But, brands that can strike the right balance between an authentic message and empowering and inspiring stories can be highly successful in connecting with viewers through a relevant cultural message.”
The report comes as brands are looking to purpose-driven marketing to engage with younger consumers who expect the companies they buy from to take a stand on issues relevant to them, and as companies feel pressured to take sides during a fractious time in American society. However, some efforts slip into audience pandering by not genuinely reflecting a brand’s values. Such an approach could erode a their value and, as purpose-driven marketing proliferates, the marketing industry more broadly.
In February, the Havas Meaningful Brands report showed that brands have a bottom-line reason for being seen as meaningful and making the world a better place. The report showed their wallet share multiply by 9 and a 24-point greater purchase intent compared to brands that don’t score well on those metrics.
The report employs natural-language processing and machine learning on tens of millions of voluntary viewer comments to gauge scores for Empower (positive impact) and Exploit (negative impact), using Ace Metrix’s emotion measurement platform. According to the researcher, the viewers come from demographically balanced panels of at least 500 U.S. consumers each.