It’s hard to recap all that happened in 2020, but our Top 10 Most Read Posts just about sum it up for the ad industry. From all things COVID-19 to addressing racial injustice, to the hankering for humor to a poetic, moldy hamburger — this was a pivotal year in advertising. Brands were faced with never-before-seen circumstances and remained resilient in the face of adversity.
We have been uncovering insights throughout the year revolving around the range of topics that define 2020. On a personal note, Ace Metrix tested its 100,000th ad along the way and celebrated the milestone with a toast to how far we’ve come and where we’re headed.
Check out (or revisit) our Top 10 Most Read Posts from 2020:
Wednesday, March 11th: The World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic.
Friday, March 13th: The first COVID-19 themed ad, from Guinness, hit the airwaves
Thursday, March 19th: We shared the first of many COVID-19 advertising insights to come. By then, we had learned that consumers were open to ads addressing the “new norm” and 75% believed brands have a responsibility to help out during the pandemic.
By April 1st, Ace Metrix had tested close to 100 pandemic-themed ads and we started to understand what was working, and what was not. How were consumers connecting with these ads? What type of messages resonated best? Should brands allude to “the times” vaguely, or call the virus by its medical name? We answered all that and more.
Months after the pandemic roiled life-as-we-know-it, the United States confronted racial injustice following the death of George Floyd. Unlike past incidents of racism, more brands were willing to wade into the conversation. We shared insights from the top ten highest scoring BLM-themed ads. Leading the pack with a PSA-style spot, the NBA also found success among its own ads with “The Truth is #BlackLivesMatter” ranking as its highest scoring ad ever:
Given the contentious atmosphere surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement, brands that joined the conversation were aware they were wading into divisive territory. In terms of Cultural Perception, most of their ads were perceived as equally Empowering as they were Exploitative. We shared the tale of two bold Black Lives Matter stances from McDonald’s and P&G and revealed what set them apart from one another.
Since the start of the pandemic, we measured a significant drop in ads that scored on our Funny emotional metric. Luckily, Snickers came along to help us laugh again, with its pandemic-themed “First Visitors.” The ad serves as a perfect example of how to execute a culturally relevant yet humorously sensitive advertising without sparking any Exploit signal:
This question wasn’t on anyone’s advertising radar until part way through 2020. Luckily, by the time everyone started asking, we had the data to understand how consumers felt about seeing face masks in ads. Was it necessary or nonessential? Ultimately, when not the sole focus of the ad, mask inclusion remained a trivial aspect in terms of impacting effectiveness.
The first few COVID-19 ads were trailblazers. Among the 500 ads that followed, key trends emerged. It didn’t take long before every one of these ads were mocked as sounding exactly the same. Was that really true?
We found that even though only a small portion of viewers explicitly called out a sense of sameness among some ads, there were no signs that gen pop consumers were worn out from COVID-19 messaging.
Pre-pandemic, the buzziest news in advertising was Burger King’s “Moldy Whopper” stunt. The campaign had the ad industry divided, with some singing its praises and others calling it brand suicide.
Seemingly crazy on the surface, our ad results indicated there was a different objective than immediate sales. We revealed what didn’t work well (the obvious part) and what did for Burger King’s “Moldy Whopper.”
“It’s About People” doesn’t show any of Frito-Lay’s various branded products: Cheetos, Doritos, Lay’s, etc., nor does it tell viewers how to think or feel. Instead, Frito-Lay shines the spotlight on the exact steps it’s taking through action, highlighting piece-by-piece what the company is doing to positively impact people across the nation and abroad, stating in the ad “This is not about brands…It’s about people.”
“The Super Bowl represents the pinnacle of video advertising, but also opposes a risk for brands. This year’s Super Bowl ads took a lightweight approach — listening to message-fatigued viewers in a highly polarized society. Additionally, many brands successfully integrated products and celebrity talent into their storylines, creating high entertainment value and memorable product connection” said Peter Daboll, Ace Metrix CEO.
Look back at this year’s Super Bowl winners from the Most Effective Overall to the Most Likeable to the Most Heartfelt to the Funniest.