The End Of Sadvertising: Super Bowl LI LIVE Ad Test – Third Quarter Report

In recent years, a pillar of Super Bowl advertising has been the sentimental ad. Usually – but not always – built around telling a moving story, sentimental ads work by tapping different types of happiness – awe, joy and particularly uplifting emotion. They also often toy with negative emotions, and if they resolve those feelings of sadness into happiness, such ads can be highly emotionally dynamic (which tends to mean better sharing and interaction rates).

But 2017 is the year the ‘sadvertising’ tide went out.


So far only one inspirational ad has scored 5 stars – Honda’s collection of yearbook photos of the famous, telling us to follow our dreams. Close behind it was Coca-Cola, whose ad, placed right after the live national anthem performance, celebrated the diversity of America and its mix of cultures and languages. This Coke ad has aired before – causing controversy and scoring poorly – but familiarity has bred contentment (and perhaps the placement was better). This year the formula clicked and Coke’s “Together Is Beautiful” walked away with a 4-Star score.

Coke hasn’t been alone in pulling emotional levers this year, of course, and several other ads have come close to matching it. One of them is Google’s “Home”, an ad for its household devices tech which riffed on the theme of coming home and netted a 4-Star score. And Pepsi LIFEWTR’s joyous and colourful ad tapped yet another type of happiness – sheer aesthetic pleasure – to get 4 Stars once again. Coke’s second ad – another repeat, celebrating Coke and Food – also pressed aesthetic buttons to get the highest score, 5-Stars.


But not every sentimental ad is a winner. Michelin’s “I Need You” had the ingredients for a tear-jerking commercial but three separate stories in thirty seconds made it a choppy watch and left viewers rather cold: it could only muster 2 Stars.


And those ads which tried to tell powerful emotional stories risked being left high and dry at a Super Bowl which has been far more about chuckling than choking up. In recent years Budweiser has been the king of sentimental Super Bowl storytelling with a string of 5-Star winners for its Clydesdale theme ads. Its 2017 commercial, “Born The Hard Way”, told the story of founder Thomas Busch’s arrival in America as an immigrant. Dogged by controversy – was it a pointed comment on recent political events? – the ad has ended up scoring just below the 3-Star threshold.


Meanwhile the cute and humorous ads keep racking up 5-Star scores. If you want a single take-away that sums up the turnaround in Super Bowl advertising this year, here it is: Budweiser got 2-Stars. Sexy Mr Clean got 5.

FeelMore50™ Ad of the Moment: One Man’s Adorable Quest to Master the English Language

Welcome back to another FeelMore50 “Ad of the Moment” spotlight. Since we discovered the Polish auction website Allegro’s holiday ad, “English for Beginners,” we’ve fallen in love. This Polish ad was created by the Warsaw agency Bardzo and was directed by Sweden’s Jesper Ericstam of The Social Club.

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What Makes Great Advertising: Lessons From Language

Orlando Wood, MD BrainJuicer Labs, writes about an experiment in language analysis in partnership with Relative Insight.

One of the main barriers to the uptake of social insight has been that behind the attractive dashboards and metrics lurks a great deal of hard human work. People have been required to build dictionaries, update vocabulary lists, and check output. And that’s in addition to their analysing the output and turning it into useful insight.

One company that might be able to offer a solution to the analysis of large amounts of text data is Relative Insight. BrainJuicer Labs met up with them to understand how the software they’ve developed might help us to interrogate the language respondents use in large text datasets.

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Relative Insight has its origins in software used to detect criminal intent in online posts. It can detect from a person’s use of language, for instance, whether they genuinely are a 10 year old girl, or in fact someone much older, pretending to be a 10 year old girl. It does this by comparing two bodies of text and looking for subtle differences in the use of words, grammar or themes. Without you realising, your language says a lot about you.

We wanted to see whether this approach could tell us anything about how different audiences respond to advertising and, indeed, whether it could help us to understand what makes great emotional advertising. We know there is a direct relationship between emotional response to advertising and its in-market efficiency, so we asked Relative Insight to analyse open-ended text responses detailing how people felt towards 150+ ads we had recently tested. The ads were part of our FeelMore50 testing – a body of creative work that has been awarded for its creativity or achieved viral success. Continue reading

Introducing FeelMore Ad of the Moment

Hi friends, my name is Evan Werdal, a Marketing Associate here at BrainJuicer, and I help coordinate the FeelMore50™ ranking each year. I’ll be guest posting periodically on anything advertising – the good, the bad and the ugly – in the lead up to FeelMore50™ 2016.

As some of you may know, the FeelMore50™ is an annual ranking of the most effective (read: emotional) ads from around the world. We mine award winners – think Cannes, Effies, Epica, Spikes, Jay Chiat, – industry publications, and monitor the Unruly Viral Video chart to compile a list of spots from 6 of the 7 continents. We test ads year round in preparation for the big launch in January. This year we’ve decided to present great ads as we test them –  these “Ads of the Moment” are emotional winners that are sure to make the next iteration of FeelMore50™. Our first Ad of the Moment is Android and Droga5’s  “Friends Furever”.

This popular spot featured in Adweek Ad of the Day, amongst other “best of” type charts, evokes nothing but happiness throughout its 62 seconds, and is even peppered with hints of nostalgia, thanks to its soundtrack – a perfectly appropriate “Oo-De-Lally” by Roger Miller. Lacking any voiceover whatsoever, the visuals and music do all the talking. I think the spot demonstrates the incredibly cliché (but true) rule of thumb, less is more. Even the song itself is a study in minimalist songwriting, it’s just acoustic guitar and Miller’s voice, allowing the tenderness of the tune to shine. In fact,“Oo-De-Lally” was actually originally used for the soundtrack of 1973’s Robin Hood produced by Disney – like I said, it’s a perfect choice for this spot. It’s no wonder why it scored a 5-Star rating with an EiA of 84.54. Droga5, Android’s creative agency, did a great job of presenting what could be seen as a safe concept in an entertaining and certainly enjoyable way.


The ad’s effectiveness is in its simple, powerful message as well as its emotional appeal. “Friends Furever” foregoes harping on any sort of USP or brand differentiation, instead opting for a UHT (Universal Human Truth), evident in the ad’s tagline, “Be Together. Not The Same.” The unlikely friendships featured in the spot undoubtedly illustrate the virtues of togetherness, leaving you with that warm and furry, err – I mean, fuzzy feeling.

FeelMore Ads of the Moment are tested using ComMotion ®, our award-winning proprietary ad testing tool: the only major ad testing product to use emotion as the foundation of its model. To learn more about emotional advertising and our methodology, contact BrainJuicer.

The Anatomy of Humbug (Pt. 3) – Drawing (System 1) Conclusions

In Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 of our review of The Anatomy of Humbug, we took a look at the history of Salesmanship Theory and Seduction Theory. But in the past century, other models have been proposed – and Paul Feldwick’s given them their due recognition here. Who were the main proponents of these models, and how did they contribute to our modern take on advertising excellence?


In our final review post, we unpick part three of Feldwick’s book – how other models of advertising are believed to work – and draw our own conclusions.

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The Anatomy of Humbug (Pt. 2) – Seduction Theory

In Pt. 1 of our review of The Anatomy of Humbug, we delved into the first part of the book, which detailed the genesis of the Salesmanship Theory – the idea that ads work by giving us information and persuading us to act. But there is another story to be told, one that is intimately intertwined with the enduring legacy of Salesmanship – that of Seduction.


In today’s post, we focus on the second part of Feldwick’s book – the historical roots of Seduction Theory – the notion that ads play on our subconscious motivations and emotions. It’s here that Feldwick uncovers the shaky ground salesmanship theories were built on – dogmas like USP, which spread by simplicity, not evidence – and exposes their limitations.

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The Anatomy of Humbug (Pt. 1) – Salesmanship Theory

Today’s blog post is by Orlando Wood, Managing Director, BrainJuicer Labs.

It’s the book launch of Paul Feldwick’s The Anatomy of Humbug – and it’s such a provocative and fascinating book about advertising that we’ve decided to review it in a three-part series.

This isn’t a book about how advertising works’, states Feldwick, ‘but a book about how people think advertising works’. Feldwick often jokes that he’s always wanted to write a book about how advertising works, entitled ‘you’re all wrong you b*stards’, but this book isn’t it. Rather, this book is a history of the characters who have formed how we think about advertising. anatomy of humbug

Like an archaeologist, Feldwick reveals the sedimentary layers of advertising theory to show us how we got where we are today. Feldwick doesn’t draw any conclusions on which theory is right; he invites the reader to make up their own mind on that score.

The book is in three parts, but it’s the first two (Salesmanship and Seduction) that form its backbone. The third part looks at four other ways people think advertising might work – Salience, Social Connection, Spin and Showmanship.

We’ll be delving into each, with this first post focusing on the Salesmanship theory (the idea that ads work by giving us information and persuading us to act).

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