Inspiration and empowerment are key themes in Q3's top ads

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Nike's "Unlimited" ads, Frosted Flakes and Olive Garden commanded viewer attention, according to Ace Metrix

We’re doing something a little different this week, focusing on all of the third quarter, rather than an ad of the week. Similar to Q1, when we see advertising excellence driven by the Super Bowl, in Q3 we saw the creative bar raised by the high emotion of the Olympics and Paralympics, with brands taking advantage of immense reach on TV and online. Other high visibility events like the Emmys and the first presidential debate also contributed to the quality of creative in the last quarter. Despite brands creating memorable ads, viewers are empowered more than ever to avoid, skip, and block advertising. For this reason, the ability to break through and command attention is the standard we are using to rank the ads, and the Ace Metrix components of Likeability and Attention are a proxy for these ad experiences.

This column often focuses on an ad that employs one of three creative techniques to impress viewers and this Top 10 list is no different. We saw highly inspirational ads, timed to the Paralympics, centered on athletes and everyday people overcoming unimaginable obstacles to achieve greatness. Other ads on the list captivated viewers with mesmerizing visuals. And some chose a humorous path to viewer engagement.

Nike and agency Wieden+Kennedy have clearly mastered the art of creative storytelling. This summer’s "Unlimited" campaign delivered three ads on this list, an impressive feat. The ad achieving the highest Breakthrough in Q3, "Unlimited Scout Basset," is a 2:25 digital ad that tells the story of a Paralympian who states, "I was born to be a runner." In the Ad Personality graph below, we see that in addition to Breakthrough strength, viewers also found it very informative. With the message overwhelmingly named the single best thing about the ad (37% of viewers), the ad evoked incredible levels of emotion, with 64% of viewers using words like "inspiring," "empowering," and "powerful."

"Unlimited Scout Bassett"
Ad Personality, Emotional Word Cloud


The fifth ad on the list, "Unlimited Will," stars Kyle Maynard, who is the first quadruple amputee to climb Mount Kilimanjaro without the aid of prosthetics. If that’s not the essence of inspiration, I’m not sure what is. "Unlimited Youth", discussed in an earlier column, brings us the story of the Iron Nun. "Unlimited Will" and "Unlimited Youth" also managed to be humorous through the use of a narrator who weighs in with unnecessary concern for heroes of each ad.

Emotion also ran high in the second highest Breakthrough ads (tie), Frosted Flakes’ "Making of Let Your Gr-r-reat Out" which follows 11-year-old Nicola as she unleashes her greatness at a skate park in her wheelchair. Olive Garden’s long form digital ad, the longest ad on the list with 3:30, tells the story of two college freshmen starting college without their families there to help move them in, and how the Never Ending Family Table helps bring families together. Of these spots, viewers gushed:

  • "This commercial leaves you feeling happy and inspired. It celebrates the young girl’s bravery, beauty, and who she is. It is a very motivational and uplifting commercial." – F21-35

  • "Best Olive Garden commercial I've ever seen. I'm fighting back tears here! I know how important family is, especially when going off to college, so that tugged at my heartstrings immensely!" – F21-35

Shifting gears to ads that were visually stunning, BMW’s "Built for Gold," Audi’s "Desolation,"and GoPro’s branded tie-in with the "The Secret Life of Pets" all impressed viewers in this way. On a side note, Audi (along with agency Venables Bell & Partners San Francisco) is the only brand on the Q3 list that returns from a previous Top Breakthrough list this year. The brand’s Super Bowl ad, "Commander", was 6th on the Q1 list. Top words in viewer comments for "Desolation" include "unique," "clever,"and "exciting." Similarly, GoPro’s adrenaline-fueled ride drew comments such as, "It’s very artistic, fun and explosive. I like beat of the music and how it coordinates with the movements of the characters. Also the visuals are stunning." (F21-35)

The use of humor also led to success for brands such as Hefty and Farmers Auto Insurance. Both also made use of celebrities, with John Cena and J.K Simmons appearing respectively. "Hefty/Wimpy – John Cena" drew an astronomical 74% of emotional viewer comments related to humor. Below we see how the ad’s relative strengths were also tied to Desire, as well as just how much the humor resonated

"Hefty / Wimpy -  John Cena"
Ad Personality, Emotional Word Cloud


\Congratulations to all of the brands and their creative agencies on this list, as well as to those who produced outstanding Breakthrough ads this quarter that fell outside of the Top 10

Top Breakthrough Ads of Q3, 2016

Rank

Brand

Ad Title

Ad Length

Likeability Score

Attention
Score

1

Nike

Unlimited Scout Bassett

2:25

781

774

2 (tie)

Frosted Flakes

Making of "Let Your

Gr-r-reat Out"

1:00

775

776

2 (tie)

Olive Garden

Never Ending Family

3:40

775

776

4

BMW

Built for Gold

1:00

765

776

5

Nike

Unlimited Will

0:30

761

773

6

Hefty

Hefty / Wimpy -  John Cena

0:30

755

761

7

Audi

Desolation

1:00

746

769

8

Farmer’s Insurance

Mer-Mutts

0:30

747

761

9

GoPro

The Secret Life of Pets

2:10

744

747

10

Nike

Nike: Unlimited Youth

0:55

754

735

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