October 23rd, 2013

Things That Make You Go LOL


Ace Metrix

Last year we introduced our Funny Index, an objective measure to determine how many viewers found an advertisement humorous.  Since its publication, “Is Funny Enough?” has become our second most popular report, with the first being “Celebrities in Advertising”.  In the 15 months since the Funny paper was published, we’ve scored another 7,000+ unique ads representing the creative efforts of some 1,200 brands and their agencies.

The updated data suggest that humor continues to be a common ingredient advertisers use to connect with their audiences, with about one in five ads identified as funny.

In this update you will find the funniest ads that we’ve scored so far this year.  We rank the industries that have delivered 2013’s funniest spots, on average, and we also look at the data by brand and by ad.  Please refer to “Is Funny Enough?” for details on the conclusions from the original study, including the finding that an ad’s Funny Score has no bearing on whether that ad is effective.  To be effective, ads must be built of substance and should use humor as a supplement — not a replacement — to the ad’s message.

Note that the Funny Score is an index with 100 being average.  Scores that are above 100 are funnier than average, and those that are below 100 are less funny than average.  For example, a score of 200 is twice as funny as the typical advertisement.

Delivery Services moves to the top

On an industry basis, Delivery Services has the highest average Funny Score year-to-date at 268, with Insurance (248) and Candies & Snacks (193) rounding out the top 3 (see Table 1).  FedEx leads the pack within Delivery Services.  In fact, all 12 of its ads have achieved a Funny Score above 100 so far this year.  The Insurance industry ranks #2, down a spot from its #1 rank last year, featuring several brands that have run funny spots in 2013, most notably Geico (think camels), Allstate and Liberty Mutual.  And in the #3 spot is Candies & Snacks, home to Doritos, Jack Link’s and Wheat Thins, all of which have aired multiple ads this year with Funny Scores above 500, or more than 5x funnier than the average ad.

Reflects all Ace Metrix industries airing at least 5 unique ads; Jan. 1, 2013 – Oct. 2, 2013.

FedEx delivers the funniest ads

Among the 300+ brands that have aired at least five unique ads thus far in 2013, FedEx has the highest average Funny Score at 456 (see Table 2).  FedEx has promoted the speed and convenience of its service through a series of humorous spots featuring a dentist, a NASCAR driver, and a pilfering dad, among others.  Jack Link’s, with its series of “Messin’ with Sasquatch” spots, is #2 with a 437 average.  And Capital One rounds out the top 3 at 429, thanks to a number of ads deadpanned by Alec Baldwin and Charles Barkley.

The stability of 2013 vs. 2012 rankings underscores the fact that utilizing humor is a strategy that is often applied consistently from year to year.  Among the nine brands in the table below that also have 2012 rankings (the other six didn’t have sufficient ad volume to earn a ranking for 2012), seven of them appeared on last year’s top 15 list.  The notable mover is K-Mart, which ranked #128 (out of 332) last year, but lands at #10 on this year’s list.  Not only did K-Mart produce a TV ad that went viral online (“Ship My Pants”), but they also aired lesser known spots like “The Easy Life” and “Lamb-Bit”, among others, with Funny Scores well north of 500.  We find it notable that 63% of K-Mart’s ads have above-average Funny Scores this year vs. just 15% that were above average in that department last year.

Reflects all Ace Metrix brands airing at least 5 unique ads; Jan. 1, 2013 – Oct. 2, 2013.

Funniest ads of 2013:  Volkswagen settles into the driver’s seat

2013’s funniest ads year-to-date show off a variety of brands in categories as diverse as Chips, Credit Cards and Non-Luxury Auto (see Table 3).  Two Super Bowl ads make the top 10 list (both from Doritos).  In addition, Volkswagen has a pair of spots among the top 10, including its top-ranked “Choose Wisely” effort.  And ads from the aforementioned K-Mart, Jack Link’s and Capital One all earn a single spot on the list.  Missing from this year’s list are several brands that made the list last year, including Buffalo Wild Wings (“Man Would Lose June” and “Man Would Lose May”), Dannon (“Yogurt Turns Person To John Stamos”), and Sears (“Be Free”).

Click to watch the top 10 funniest ads of 2013, YTD.

Reflects top 10 ads ranked by the Ace Metrix Funny Score based on all TV ads scored between January 1, 2013 and October 2, 2013.  Gap to Norm reflects percentage outperformance or underperformance relative to the brand’s 2013 category norm. **Items 2, 8 and 9 scored at or near category norm, further demonstrating that Funny ≠ Effective.


The 10 funniest ads year-to-date list includes a single spot that scored below its 2013 Ace Score category norm (Capital One’s “Tighty Whities”), two at norm, and seven ads that scored above their respective 2013 category norms.  Within the cream of the crop, this year’s funniest ads have also been effective ads.  But this relationship doesn’t hold within the broader sample.  In fact, when we look at all 4,500 ads for which we have both Ace Scores and Funny Scores year-to-date, these two variables have a near-zero relationship (r = 0.07).  Funny by itself is not a formula for effective.  Rather, it may be used to supplement – not replace – the message that the creative spot is intending to share.

As 2013 nears its conclusion, we’ll continue to score and rank all ads.  Watch this space for an update after 2013’s funniest ads are in the books.


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