The Ace Metrix Breakthrough ranking highlights several marketing tactics that appear to resonate with consumers, while underscoring the need for brands to make emotional connections with viewers through meaningful messaging. Many of the list’s top-rated ads included real-life emotional connections in their message, deep storytelling and feel-good sentiments. Some brands seen as meaningful and viewed as making the world a better place have seen their wallet share multiply by nine and benefit from a 24-point greater purchase intent than those that don’t appear meaningful to consumers, according to Havas’ Meaningful Brands 2019 report from February.
For example, Verizon, Microsoft, and Gillette took on meaningful topics in their ads, using emotion and creative storytelling to associate their brands with causes that consumers may perceive as important. Verizon’s focus on first responders during the Super Bowl shifts the attention from the star coach and shines the spotlight on the people that saved his life after a bad car accident. Microsoft’s “We All Win” spot struck a chord by showcasing children with disabilities who use the new Xbox Adaptive Controller in order to play video games and connect with their friends online, setting it apart from a slate of risk-averse Super Bowl ads earlier this year.
Tugging at consumers’ heartstrings and taking on an important social cause might resonate with viewers, but it’s not without its risks. Gillette’s controversial ad, “We Believe,” experienced some social media backlash when it debuted in January. The spot challenged potentially outdated characteristics around manliness, many of which have historically been amplified by advertising, and revamped an older tagline to “The Best Men Can Be” in order to tackle notions of toxic masculinity.
However, Ace Metrix’s data revealed that when Gillette’s spot first aired, the backlash on social represented a small — albeit loud — minority of opinions. Overall, 65% of viewers said the ad made them more likely to purchase Gillette products, and two-thirds rated the message the “single best thing about the ad,” suggesting that the reward was worth the cause-based risk for the brand.