Over the past seven years conducting the Advertising Review we’ve had the opportunity to strategically evaluate numerous commercials from a diverse set of brands. Throughout the years, we’ve observed that some brands seem to consistently get it right and earn an A or B grade from our panel. Budweiser, for example, is one such brand. Because we look at a brand’s portfolio, as opposed to a single spot, such consistency has to be attributed to what the brand is able to do across multiple executions as opposed to having multiple opportunities to do well.
The fact that some brands consistently perform well, whereas others show either erratic or consistently poor performance, suggests that there is more than just luck in creating a good advertising spot. One might attribute success simply to some brands or their creative agencies having “the knack.” While some form of that hypothesis is probably true, it’s also worth recognizing that at least several consistently high-performing advertisers succeed because of immense foresight and hard work. Indeed, we know of one brand that starts with more than 50 possible ideas before ultimately landing on an execution that fits their creative and strategic objectives.
Conversely, I can think of several advertisers who are known not to test creative ideas aggressively, if at all. These same brands have scored inconsistently, at best, on the Kellogg Ad Review’s report card. For example, CareerBuilder has relied on their gut in some cases, and we have seen performance range from fantastic to questionable (literally). Although brands might sometimes get it right without any studying, our results suggest that those who spend the time to test their creative concepts are rewarded for their efforts.
What does this mean for new entrants into the Super Bowl advertising game? Brands should recognize the added value that comes from aggressively testing ads before they air, and building adequate time to do so into their creative timelines. If a brand is willing to spend $3.5 million on a Super Bowl spot, it doesn’t hurt to have studied a bit!