January 7th, 2020

The Best Storytelling Ads in 2019


Ace Metrix

Storytelling, one of our oldest pastimes, takes skill and artfulness to truly connect with viewers. The top Narrative ads of 2019 tell real life stories, historical tales and inspirational accounts and while they differ in their delivery, they all cause a multitude of emotions in viewers. The ads in the Top Ten for Narrative have no fewer than eight emotions that fire, an impressive feat when many ads struggle to fire on more than one.

Our Narrative metric is one of fifty-seven from Ace EMO, which measures the strength of emotional connection in advertising. Scores are passively derived from voluntary respondent verbatim comments using Natural Language Processing and machine learning analysis. Narrative measures the power of the story and picks up on any phrases close or related to ones like “love the storyline,” “dramatic story,” “powerful history” and “tells a meaningful story,” including synonyms, misspellings, and anomalies.

With over 8,400 video ads analyzed in 2019, and over 3 million viewer comments, these ads distinguished themselves by achieving the highest quantifiable level of storytelling — Congrats!

2019’s Best Storytelling Ads:

Rank Brand Ad Title Length Narrative Score
1 Mercedes-Benz Bertha Benz 1:00 10
2 Travelers  Legacy 1:00 10
3 Charles Schwab My Journey 1:00 10
4 Hallmark Mom’s Love is for Always 0:30 9.3
5 Principal Financial Dream Car 1:00 9.2
6 University of Phoenix Find Your Wings 1:00 8.6
7 Verizon First Responders: Coach 1:00 8.2
8 Jim Beam Raised Right: Celebration 1:00 8.2
9 Nike Sisterly Love 1:00 8.2
10 Travelers Footsteps 1:00 8.1
*Breakthrough capability (a combination of Attention and Likeability components) was used as the tie-breaker for first and seventh place.

As shown in the emotional profile below, the top storytelling ad, Mercedes’s “Bertha Benz,” hit on a wide spectrum of emotions with the most significant connections (beyond Narrative) relating to Powerful messaging, Inspiring and Heartfelt feelings.


In addition to emotional storytelling, Mercedes excelled at delivering Information in an entertaining manner with signal on Adtastic, Cinematic and Learning. In comparison to other 2019 luxury automotive ads, Information was 30% above norm, Likeability +24% and Attention +18%. 

Both Travelers Insurance ads among the Best Storytelling spots outperformed 2019 insurance industry norms on every quantitative measure and evoked similar emotions. However, thanks to its Likeability, the stronger storytelling spot “Legacy” was the better performer of the two on our quantitative measures, with an Ace Score that lands among the top ten Insurance ads of 2019. 

Component Cap-to-Norm Scores

Norm: 2019 Insurance

Ace Metrix Component Scores: Travelers Insurance

Across a wide audience, Kelly’s real-life narrative in Charles Schwabs’ “My Journey” grabbed Attention in a Likeable manner at levels significantly above 2019 investment norms. It was a Powerful and Inspiring story with a Corporate Responsibility message viewers appreciated. However, many expressed internal conflict (But) over the lack of product details.

Charles Schwab “My Journey” Emotional Profile


In fourth place, Hallmark’s “Mom’s Love is for Always” tapped into heartwarming emotions that established relevance for the product in consumers’ minds. A card is a must for most who are celebrating Mother’s Day, making the connection of the product to the story more credible and contributing to 1 in 2 viewers reporting positive purchase intent. Likely driving some of that purchase intent was not only the storytelling, but the intense Heartfelt feeling the ad created for viewers. This spot not only scored in Rare territory for Narrative, but Heartfelt as well, an impressive feat when less than 2.9% of ads score above 9 for a single emotion.

Hallmark “Mom’s Love is for Always”


Principal Financial’s “Dream Car” was even more successful quantitatively than Charles Schwab’s “My Journey” thanks to Relevant, Likeable and Attention-grabbing storytelling that built Desire and resulted in positive consideration among 55% of viewers. Altogether, those factors made “Dream Car” the highest scoring investment ad by Ace Score in 2019 – Kudos!

University of Phoenix’s “Find Your Wings” parallels a child’s bedtime story with that of his mother going back to school. Thanks to its Likeable and Inspirational message, the ad was one of the strongest performers in its category. More importantly, it was a hit among university intenders (next 18 months) — 60% of whom reported increased consideration. 

In Verizon’s 60-second Super Bowl spot, “First Responders: Coach,” Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn got a surprise opportunity to meet and thank his personal heroes. Witnessing the impact of first responders hit viewers with a wave of emotions, mostly related to feelings of the heart (Heartwarming, Inspiration, Powerful, Storytelling):

 Verizon’s “First Responders: Coach” Emotional Profile

Verizon "First Responders: Coach" Emo Plot

Holding down the eighth spot is Jim Beam’s “Raised Right: Celebration,” which pays tribute to the brand’s heritage. The historical context along with the narration delivered more Information than most liquor ads. In fact, this ad scored 30% above 2019 liquor norms on our Information component. 

Between the heartwarming story and poetic imagery, Nike’s “Sisterly Love” earned above apparel norm scores on Attention and Likeability. However, with very subtle branding and no explicit link to the narrative, it was also Nike’s lowest scoring ad on Desire and second lowest on Relevance in 2019 showing that outstanding storytelling alone does not make an effective ad.

Congratulations to the best storytelling ads from 2019!


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