T-Mobile, Snickers, Capital One top rankings of ‘stand-out’ 2020 ads

Dive Brief:

  • T-Mobile, Snickers and Capital One topped the rankings of “stand-out” TV commercials in several categories evaluated by Ace Metrix, which surveys a consumer panel to measure the creative effectiveness of advertising. The firm last year analyzed more than 9,000 ads, per a blog post.
  • T-Mobile’s spot titled “MLB Little League Grant” was ranked No. 1 in the category of “most empowering ads,” with viewers reacting favorably to the mobile carrier’s pledge of $1 million to youth baseball leagues nationwide. Candy brand Snickers scored a No. 1 ranking for “funniest ad” with its 15-second spot titled “First Visitors” that showed the pitfalls of trying to socialize during the pandemic. Capital One had the top ad in the “breakthrough” category, cutting through the clutter with its 60-second “Instant Search” holiday spot that reunited brand ambassador Samuel L. Jackson with his “Pulp Fiction” costar John Travolta playing Santa Claus.
  • Next month’s Super Bowl is likely to bring more light-hearted, nostalgic and inspiring spots as brands aim to engage consumers who still worry about the global pandemic, but also are tired of hearing about it, Ace Metrix predicted. The big game is usually the most-watched event on TV, often setting the tone for campaigns throughout the year.

Dive Insight:

Due to the pandemic, recession, social unrest and calls to end racism, 2020 was a momentous year that challenged brands to strike the right tone in their advertising. As Ace Metrix’s studies suggest, consumers reacted positively to commercials that were inspiring, humorous or helped them to recall comforting memories from the pre-pandemic era. The insights are especially meaningful as brands gear up for a year that brings hope with the arrival of breakthrough vaccines, and worry after last week’s mob attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump. Those cross currents are likely to shape brand messaging in 2021.

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In addition to naming T-Mobile’s top-ranked spot as “most empowering,” Ace Metrix said viewers also responded favorably to ads from snack brand Frito-Lay, retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods, Procter & Gamble’s Tide detergent and financial services provider Wells Fargo. Telecom giant Verizon, the PGA Tour, vehicle marker Mercedes-Benz and discount chain Walmart also ran purpose-driven ads with empowering themes. While many of the ads referred to COVID-19 pandemic, T-Mobile’s top-ranked ad about its Little League donation stood out for not mentioning the crisis, according to Ace Metrix.

The list of funniest ads indicates that consumers also are seeking a distraction from weightier matters like the pandemic and social strife. Snickers’ top-ranked “First Visitors” ad made light of how people are trying to navigate new social norms. The spot depicted a pantsless husband who mistakenly assumed his wife had arranged a video call with friends, who instead are sitting on the backyard patio and are shocked at the sight of him in his underwear. Snack brand Cheetos, dating site Match, pizza chain Little Caesars and tortilla chip brand Doritos also ranked high in the humor category. Pet food Greenies, Michelob Ultra beer, Reese’s candy, Wonderful Pistachios and Twix candy rounded out the top 10, per Ace Metrix.

Breakthrough ads rank highest in likeability and their ability to grab viewer attention. Capital One scored the highest rating for its ad with Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta, which struck a nostalgic tone for people who remember their pairing in the cult classic “Pulp Fiction.” Search giant Google received high marks for an ad thanking healthcare workers at the onset of the pandemic, while Budweiser grabbed two spots in the top 10 with a Memorial Day ad and one that urged people to support local bars that had been shuttered during lockdowns. Clothing retailer Kohl’s, pet store chain Petsmart, Lego toys, vehicle brands Jeep and Hyundai, and Dick’s Sporting Goods also were in the top 10.

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