“Today, when people can switch off, skip ads, or alternatively share them via social media, likeability is more important than ever—and exponentially more valuable than recall.” said Michele Levine, chief executive of Roy Morgan Research, which carried out a study into audience reactions.
The market research agency did this by using the Reactor research tool to measuring the spontaneous reactions of selected viewers to eight different commercials or breakfast foods covering products from Sanitarium, Kellogg’s, Nestle, Uncle Toby’s and Devondale.
Throughout each ad, the agencyrecorded and graphed the positive or negative feelings of viewers, revealing which ads were most (or least) likeable overall, and pinpointing when and how different target audiences reacted in real time.
Top of the class
The winner was the Weet-Bix “100% Ready” campaign, where bowls of cereal prompt a growing boy’s milestones. The spot had the most consistent likeability across all age groups, but did skew toward females, who were especially pleased to see the boy, now a fully grown and shaggy-haired teen, still kiss proud mum goodbye.
The ad’s overall R-Score for average total likeability was 59, and scored highest across the board, including Cut Through (the first 10 seconds), Hot Zone (percentage of people scoring over 70) and End Score (last 3 seconds).
Other well-liked spots included those for Up&Go, which featured jogging, cycling and surfing at the crack of dawn; Crunchy Nut with a businessman who is hypnotised out of his first-class seat; and Uncle Toby’s Oats, where irony abounds as Mum calls daughter a pioneer for discovering that oats is a superfood.
Could do better
Divided audience reactions meant lower scores for Devondale’s Fast Start drink and Kellogg’s Special K, although they were still positive overall.
Although 18-34 year-olds enjoyed watching Devondale’s dad express disgust at his daughter’s painting (it turns out it was just “soy aftertaste face”), those aged over 50 did not approve. And while women cheered as Radiance and Confidence supplanted kilograms in Special-K’s feminine utopia, men just sat and watched, unreactive, waiting for it all to be over.
Two ads scored in the unlikeable range, with an R-Score below 50: mum learning the merits of Milo’s “nutritious energy” for busy children scored 48; but even this was 10 points ahead of the “New Product Watch” spot for liquid Nutri-Grain or Coco Pops. The infomercial format quickly turned off both male and female viewers of all ages; by the time we discover that “eight out of 10 mums recommend” the product, the ad is bottoming out at just 33—or highly unlikeable.
“Our Reactor testing reveals that Australians on the whole respond positively to the bright and bouncy world of breakfast food advertising,” explained Levine.
“The main exception is the ‘Product News’ style used by Kellogg’s to advertise liquid versions of Nutri-Grain and Coco Pops. Not only did audiences unequivocally rebuff this ad, but it scored poorly on subsequent product recall tests.
“Although the Milo cereal ad for Nestle was not ‘liked’ in the real-time Reactor test, it subsequently had over 50% total recall among respondents—the highest of all eight ads.