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Kit Kat tops Oz ad ratings, while Skittles loses its Midas touch

Post a commentBy RJ Whitehead , 03-Feb-2014

Eating chocolate is a one-way road to happiness, if you subscribe to the approach used by confectionery companies in Australia to market their products.

Whether viewers are being transported to Joyville, a funky hippo’s zoo enclosure or a romantic beach with Glee star Naya Rivera, chocolate these tend to inhabit a fantasy world where irritating details like weight gain and pimples don’t exist. 

But do these ads hit the sweet spot for Australian audiences, asked Roy Morgan Research as it measured the real-time reactions of Australians to seven well known television commercials from confectionery brands including Cadbury, Snickers, Kit Kat, The Natural Confectionery Co and Skittles.

By tracking viewers’ spontaneous responses to each ad as it played out, the research company looked for an accurate, picture of which ads engaged viewers most successfully and which left them unmoved.  

Top of the chocs

The most popular ad of all turned out to be one for Kit Kat, which was enjoyed by male, female, old and young alike.

Taking a break from sweeping out the hippo enclosure, a zookeeper sits down to have a Kit Kat. As he rips open the packaging, the hippo starts making beat-box noises. You can watch the commercial here .

This whimsical Kit Kat commercial was especially popular with women, but men liked it too, resulting in an overall likeability of 58, the highest of all seven ads.

Cadbury’s Joyville Special Deliveries , a magical romp in which Cadbury chocolate is inextricably linked with joy, was also rated highly, particularly among female members of our test audience. 

Testing of Australians’ responses to confectionary advertisements has revealed some distinct trends. Women almost always respond more favourably than men to the joyous fantasy world depicted in these commercials; likewise, young viewers are far more receptive than those 50 and over,” said Michele Levine, chief executive of Roy Morgan Research.

M&Ms’ 2013 Superbowl commercial , starring a red M&M singing Meatloaf’s I Would Do Anything for Love as it romances Glee actress Naya Rivera while trying to avoid getting eaten, was extremely popular with men and women under 50.

While a celebrity can certainly boost a commercial’s popularity, it’s not always a sure-fire guarantee. Despite the presence of tennis legend Roger Federer, Lindt’s Lindor Caramel Ball ad received a lukewarm reaction at best.

Opposite of Midas touch

Even less liked was Skittles’ Midas Touch spot: a dramatic departure from the usual sweet, upbeat approach of confectionary advertising. This strange mini-saga of a man who turns everything he touches into Skittles alienated older viewers so much that their negative response adversely impacted its overall score.

As FoodNavigator-Asia reported last month with beer commercials , humour is an effective means of engaging audiences, thereby explaining the positive reactions to the Kit Kat and M&Ms ads. Whimsy, as in the Cadbury’s commercial, might be well received, but dark humour, as employed by Skittles, is not so reliable.

Levine added: “While likeability is crucial for building positive associations that will ultimately influence viewers’ purchasing habits, an ad also needs to be memorable. In this respect, M&Ms topped the list, achieving a top-of-mind recall of 30%.

With access to more entertainment and information channels and platforms than ever before, Australians are no longer held hostage by TV commercials as they once were. Unless an ad is both likeable and readily recalled, it risks becoming little more than background static.”

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