April 1st, 2017

Love Conquers All in Top Breakthrough Ads of Q1


Ace Metrix

Viewers reject broad stroke pandering and preaching in favor of the importance of family and home.

The first quarter reliably delivers an abundance of great advertising, as significant audience-grabbing events such as the Super Bowl, Grammy Awards, and the Oscars inspire some of the industry’s best work. This year, the close of a particularly unruly election cycle saw some brands attempt to send a message to viewers, with spots on immigration, fake news, and more, while celebrity award winners shared impassioned viewpoints. However, American viewers wanted none of it, instead embracing brands that delivered ads reflecting who we are, pointedly eschewing the urge to tell us who to be or what to think. Tellingly, the 2017 top ads of the first quarter reflect America’s core values and remind us that love truly does conquer all. Brands that inspired us to improve our own daily lives and paid homage to our everyday struggles won out over those making broad stroke statements about worldwide issues.

Below are this year’s top Q1 ads ranked by Breakthrough performance, which combines the Attention and Likeability component scores. These are the best of the best, achieving Breakthrough levels recorded by less than 1% of all ads.

Top Breakthrough Ads of Q1, 2017

Rank Brand Ad Title Ad Length Likeability Score Attention
1 Hyundai A Better Super Bowl 1:30 807 805
2 Angel Soft Happy National Single Parent’s Day 1:00 799 805
3 Coldwell Banker Somebody to Love 1:00 779 776
4 (tie) Sherwin-Williams Safari 0:30 772 772
4 (tie) Procter & Gamble #WeSeeEqual 1:40 766 778
6 Kia Hero’s Journey 1:00 743 797
7 Angel Soft Just Dad 1:05 764 766
8 Skittles Romance 0:30 758 771
9 Google Familiar 1:00 752 772
10 LongHorn Steakhouse LongHorn Favorites 0:30 752 767


“Reach and resonance are both necessary to achieve marketing results,” said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix.  “All the reach in the world can’t fix creative that consumers don’t connect with or simply won’t watch. According to the latest Deloitte survey, 80% of millennials and gen Z’ers skip TV and digital video commercials. A recent study published by Ad Age confirmed that the likeability of a message trumps delivery when looking at brand sales lift – which should be painfully obvious; who is going to watch something they don’t like, no matter how short? This is why our Breakthrough metric uniquely lends equal consideration to Likeability as well as Attention.”

“To really resonate with viewers, brands need to walk the talk if they are going to deliver an emotionally evocative message that’s believable,” continued Daboll. “Congratulations to Angel Soft for securing two ads in the top ten list this quarter and to all the winners for giving us compelling storytelling that reflects their brand’s values.”

 Six of the top ten ads of Q1 reminded us of the importance of family, with two offering kudos to single parents and another two, the search for a home (pet or human). Angel Soft’s “Be Soft. Be Strong.” campaign landed two of the top ranking spots, while only three Super Bowl 51 ads claimed a top position.

Hyundai’s Super Bowl 51 “A Better Super Bowl” captured the Top Breakthrough Ad of the Quarter by filming during the actual game as military families were connected onscreen with their enlisted family members to experience the game together. A product of Hollywood director Peter Berg, the ad earned the highest Likeability score of the group and evoked emotional terms such as “awesome,” “touching,” and “heartwarming” in viewer comments. At a close second (and tied for top attention-getter) was Angel Soft’s 2:00 digital “Happy National Single Parent’s Day,” which voiced the struggles of real single parents, and announced the brand’s gifts of a year’s worth of childcare, preschool, or rent to the featured parents as a means of marking the national (relatively unknown) holiday. Another digital ode to single parenting by Angel Soft, the :60 “Just Dad,” ranked 7th on our list.

In third place, Coldwell Banker reminded us that we all just need “Somebody to Love” in a heartwarming spot created by agency Siltanen & Partners espousing stray pet adoption. All three top Breakthrough ads brought viewers to tears without preaching a word.

Tied for fourth were a long-form digital ad from Proctor & Gamble and a :30 TV spot from Sherwin-Williams, both visually evocative. Sherwin-Williams’ stunningly artistic “Safari” wowed with visuals created using 30,000 paint chips by 24 production artists over 5,600 hours that were rated the single best thing by a jaw-dropping 73% of viewers. The creativity displayed in this spot by McKinney and Buck Studios blew viewers away, inspiring 80% to share the ad with their circles of influence and get creative in their own homes – in the words of one viewer, “I really hate painting but I need to and this made me want to finish painting.” Set to the 4 Non Blondes song “What’s Up,” a clever combination of visuals and hopeful message elicited a strong emotional reaction to P&G’s “#WeSeeEqual” missive of inclusion in honor of International Women’s Day. Strong visuals also secured the 10th spot for LongHorn Steakhouse, the lone hunger inducer in this quarter’s list, showcasing a different creative strategy to break through the clutter. 

Humor took a backseat in driving Breakthrough this quarter with only Skittles’ “Romance” and Kia’s “Hero’s Journey” featuring Melissa McCarthy — both Super Bowl 51 ads — taking a top spot using the tactic. Rounding out our top ten was Google’s uncanny :60 “Familiar,” which recounted the true-life story of Saroo Brierley’s book, A Long Way Home (and the story behind Disney’s tearjerker “Lion” film), remarkably aided by Google Earth.


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