September 12th, 2019

Here’s why you should measure an ad’s Cultural Perception


Ace Metrix

We released the first rankings from our groundbreaking new Cultural Perception measure. The brands recognized as the most empowering in terms of cultural and social issues outscored thousands of other ads.

Why Measure Cultural Perception?

As media consumption becomes more fragmented or avoided altogether, many brands seek to capture attention and connect emotionally through socially conscious and purpose-driven messaging. There are hundreds of culturally important initiatives that brands can align with, but the communication of these choices come with very real risks and rewards. Identifying those unforeseen blindspots can be critical to a campaign’s success. 

But, when it comes to understanding cultural impact, others in the industry universally measure one issue at a time via a survey question(s). This results in spotty, erratic data if advertisers weren’t invoking the cause or issue addressed in the question. Additionally, other issues can be missed, leaving marketers with a sliver of the whole cultural impact pie. 

Those measurement setbacks are a thing of the past. Our new Cultural Perception scoring system offers advertisers the ability to quantify both the positive and negative impact of ads across culturally important and socially valuable issues. 

The Empower metric measures the positive impact of an ad’s message, indicating when viewers find it encouraging, inspiring or motivating. The Exploit metric quantifies the negative impact, indicating when ads offend viewers in some manner, whether that’s via stereotyping, pandering, objectification, glorification, portraying racism or sexism, or even a brand attempting to attach themselves to a cause that is not relevant.

Scores for Empower and Exploit are derived from our emotion measurement platform, which applies NLP and machine learning techniques to tens of millions of voluntary verbatim viewer comments. We measure the positive and negative cultural impact of all ads, including those previously tested, providing brands with competitive and historical benchmarks and the ability to track changes over time.  

The Most Empowering Ads:

The following ads earned the highest scores on Empower at levels achieved by less than .1% of all ads. Common themes among the list include veterans and narratives about overcoming the odds, whether it’s a physical, mental or social limitation. 

While brands might believe their causes are indisputably virtuous, there are inherent risks even among seemingly benign, apolitical topics which makes the Cultural Perception scores invaluable to understanding an ad’s reception. Even among the top Empowering spots, all but two contained some level of Exploit.

Peter Daboll, Ace Metrix CEO, explains, “It’s not uncommon for purpose driven ads that seek to have a cultural impact to meet some level of risk. Ads can be BOTH positive and negative depending on message and viewer. But, brands that can strike the right balance between an authentic message and empowering and inspiring stories can be highly successful in connecting with viewers through a relevant cultural message.”

Rank Brand Ad Title Air Date Length Empower Exploit
1 Budweiser Serve Our Heroes 5/24/17 0:30 100 2
2 (tie) Nike Sport Changes Everything: Justin Gallegos 7/9/19 0:30 99 6
2 (tie) AT&T No Limits 4/5/17 1:00 99 6
3 Citigroup Making A Change 10/10/17 1:00 99 7
4 Walmart Share The Love 6/5/19 1:00 99 22
5 Applebee’s Veteran’s Appreciation 11/13/16 0:30 99 39
6 Citibank Why Does Citi Sponsor Team USA? 8/5/16 1:00 98 0
7 (tie) NFL Inspire Change 2/7/19 0:20 98 1
7 (tie) MasterCard Stand Up 7/7/17 0:30 98 1
8 Citigroup Progress Makers 7/5/17 1:00 98 2


Comcast Second Chance 2/8/18 1:00 98 6


Nike Sport Changes Everything: Maynor De Leon 7/9/19 1:00 98 6
10 Citigroup Educating Girls 9/3/18 1:00 98 7
*Ranked first by Empower, then Exploit signal

Budweiser leads the most empowering ads with “Serve Our Heroes.” In the creative, Budweiser salutes veterans and pledges a portion of sales to the non-profit, Folds of Honor. It hit on several of our Empowering-related emotions including Powerful, Heartfelt, Inspiring, Authentic, and Corporate Responsibility. Additionally, Adtastic was the top reaction evoked showing just about everyone loved and appreciated the ad’s execution and message (a sample of viewer comments further below represent the Adtastic reaction):

Budweiser "Serve Our Heroes" Emotional Profile
Budweiser’s “”Serve Our Heroes” Emotional Profile

“Well done, folks, well done! Good filming, good goodwill. It showed the brand clearly and told well of the offer affiliated with the brand.” Male 50+

“Great ad anytime u mention veterans, fallen veterans or families. I think this is a winner.” Female 50+

“I am having an emotional reaction to this advertisement. It shows a great deal of respect. I really like it.” Male 36-49

“Great ad. This is wonderful for Budweiser to do this special promotion for the military. Going to go buy Bud TODAY and forever!!!” Female 50+

“Budwiser always does a great job with their ads. I loved that this is for memorial day and they will be donating” Female 21-35

Budweiser isn’t the only one to connect with viewers on those emotions. In fact, each of the most empowering ads have emotional profiles that resemble “Serve Our Heroes,” as evident in the heat map below:Emo Heat Map for Most Empowering Ads

The levels of emotional impact displayed in the heat map show that the most empowering ads were extremely successful in connecting with viewers through their cultural messages. 

Of course, many brands will “steer clear” of sensitive cultural storylines, viewing them as landmines that risk their brand acceptance. This is a perfectly logical strategy. The Cultural Perception system allows brands to know where they stand, where the risks and rewards can be found, and uncover unintended negative cultural consequences of their work.


{{ title }}



{{ category }}


{{ date }}


{{ rank }}

Scroll To Top