April 3rd, 2014

Top Performing Ads Strike a Chord with America


Ace Metrix


Wow. The first quarter of 2014 has been an incredible blur. Q1 was
brimming with cool creative events: Brand of the Year, Ad of the YearSuper BowlOlympics, Oscars and the publishing of the BLACKBOOK. Still it’s hard to believe we are already in April. The first quarter of 2014 was nothing short of a blur (we have a long held affection for Q1).

This quarter produced some exceptional creative, including some real stunners from the Super Bowl, several of which make it into our top five lists for the first twelve weeks of the year. Before we read the honor rolls and announce the winners – some high level stats.  During the quarter we scored 1,800 ads, representing 874,000 consumer interactions and generating over 524,000 verbatim comments.  Each of those ads was scored the same way, by 500+ consumers alongside other advertising, providing comparability between ads and across categories (for more on the methodology click here). Not all categories are the same, however, something we have detailed in the last two editions of the BLACKBOOK. You have a higher probability of producing a top scoring ad if you are making a Casual Dining ad than if you are making a Financial Services ad. As a result we publish two lists, one on an absolute basis and the with the largest gap the category norm.  Both approaches recognize greatness.

Q1 is the Super Bowl quarter, and it produced 40% of the winners this year. That percentage is a little unusual, but this year’s Super Bowl was statistically better than most from an advertising perspective.

Category Overachievers

Watch each of the ads in the Category Overachievers list >

When it comes to our “Category Overachievers” list we find two brands that are head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd. Those two brands are Budweiser and Google.

Budweiser’s work doesn’t always take the category (Guinness took 2013’s Q4) but when it rolls out the Clydesdales (something it saves for the Super Bowl and 9/11 anniversaries) it’s game over. Both ads feature Clydesdales, one in a co-starring role with a puppy and the other in a supporting role for a returning solider. Both are emotional gems:

Google delivered two ads in the top five – both of them debuting during the Oscars. The ads spoke to simple themes of inspiration, learning, entertainment and storytelling but did so with remarkable ease.

Coming in at #5 is Dick’s Sporting Goods :60 spring sports/philanthropic spot. The ad is a powerful reminder of the role that sports play in our lives and the lives of our children.  Retail is a difficult category to overachieve in given the volume (close to 20% of the ads in Q1 are retail) so this piece of creative deserves high praise.  In fact, when looking at the overachievers in the retail industry specifically, Dick’s posted five “Sports Matter” ads among the top 10 of the quarter.

Top Ads of Q1 – by Ace Score  

Watch each of the ads in the Highest Scoring ads list >

Here are the winners from an overall basis. Microsoft took the honors with the top Overall score, breaking 700 for the second time in our history.  Their powerful ad detailed how technology (and specifically Surface, Kinect, Windows and other products) could help mankind overcome a variety of obstacles.

Microsoft was followed by another Super Bowl ad, this time from Hyundai.  The ad for the Genesis, was sneaky good, mixing humor with a superb product demo for their automatic breaking system – one that consumers were highly attuned.  The ad also broke 700 with the high income audience we score luxury automotive against.

As we noted earlier, America has a soft spot for Casual Dining ads and the probability we would not get an ad from CDR brand in the top 10 was relatively low. Still, TGI Friday’s introduction of Burgers on the menu was something special and hit our list at number 3.  Check out the Desire score on this ad. You have been warned – don’t watch this ad if you are hungry.

Coming in at #4 is Ore-Ida. The “Justice for Potatoes League” campaign has been a winner for Ore-Ida, combining humor and information with super cute kids. The latest installment didn’t disappoint, hitting on all the Persuasion cylinders.

Rounding out the top ads on an Overall basis is Procter & Gamble, with an early selection from their Olympic campaign. P&G took home the gold in our Olympic ad review based on work like this with its high emotional appeal and celebration of the effort given by mom’s everywhere.  While light on Information, the ad crushed it on Likeability and Attention.

Every brand you see on the list, plus another 1,400 more can be found in the BLACKBOOK, complete with data on their average Ace Score, Emotional Sentiment scores and year-over-year changes. Register for the online version or to request a deeper dive and hard copy.


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