What makes a TV advertising campaign a success? Easy, say experts at Nielsen, who have devised a simple two-stage test to compile our Top Campaigns of 2017

top campaigns 2017 one use

What makes a TV advertising campaign a success? What made the Cadbury gorilla hammering on a drum kit back in 2007 such a resounding hit for the brand for instance, while the Strand cigarette ‘Lonely Man’ campaign of 50 years earlier went down as one of the biggest flops in advertising history? Easy, say experts at Nielsen, who have devised a simple two-stage test to compile our Top Campaigns of 2017.

“We look at real world cut-through,” explains Kate Slaymaker, Nielsen media analytics consultancy lead. “So this ranking has been compiled by measuring both the consumer’s ability to remember the storyline of the advert, and also the brand.”

By tracking these two performance indicators, ‘Ad Memorability’ and ‘Brand Linkage’, with viewers 24 hours after exposure to the ad, the team were able to award each contender (those campaigns aired in the 12 months to September 2017) a ‘net impact’ score.

The winning 51 campaigns contain plenty of food for thought for brands hoping to emulate their success. “Make sure you are reaching the right audience, in the right way and on the right platform,” explains Slaymaker. “Don’t make your consumers struggle to identify what they are communicating and what the brand is.”

There are three core components to any successful advertising campaign. First create consistency across all channels on which the campaign will run, from TV to YouTube to social media. Creating hashtags on Twitter or Instagram is one increasingly popular option. “Hashtags link adverts together across each platform,” explains Alison Lock, marketing and communications director at Nielsen. “An effective TV ad will complement all of the work being done on digital, print and the other platforms, with the hashtag drawing them all together.”

One of the most successful examples of 2017 were the McVitie’s kittens, emerging blinking from packets of Chocolate Digestive Nibbles to leave social media melting into a warm puddle of #sweeet. The campaign was supported by a £4m media investment, which extended beyond simply TV and PR to digital, social media and the launch of an app.

Second, brands need to include an element of what Nielsen terms “ownable content.” For example, while the gorilla and his drum kit may not hold an obvious connection to confectionery, the fact that he was filmed against the famous Cadbury purple did. “It gives you something ownable that you can use to make your ads consistent,” Slaymaker adds. “The Cadbury purples, the Gaviscon fireman and Gary Lineker all do that.”

Third, always try to provoke an emotion. This can be through humour. One of the most obvious instances in this year’s crop of ads was comedian Peter Kay joining forces with Warburtons or the galloping dachshunds that make a star turn for Heinz sauces.

Emotional response

But successful ads can equally invoke desire or envy, such as the brooding Head & Shoulders campaign starring West Ham goalkeeper Joe Hart, or shock, as played on by Corsodyl mouthwash with its graphic shots of bleeding gums. Almost any emotional response will do.

“Making your consumers engage from an emotional perspective is incredibly important,” Slaymaker continues. “If your ad creates a response, that will help enormously. Often humour is the most positive way to do that. But there are no hard and fast rules and, sometimes, breaking what feels like a guideline can be very effective.”

Get it right and the rewards can be huge. For all the talk of digital and social making waves TV remains king, raking in more than £5bn of ad spend from brands each year. “It is the most dominant and the most trusted media for mass reach,” says Slaymaker. “Create a simple narrative that is easy to understand, weave the brand within it, perhaps using subtle product placement, and use a hashtag as a call to action. That gets you far.

Or as Phil Collins, watching the Cadbury’s gorilla drum to his tune, observed: “It’s all about attitude and the way you hit it.”

The Top Campaigns of 2017

voltarol ad


Voltarol: Couple gets active

Product: Voltarol Pain Relief 12 Hour Gel

Net impact: 57%

Voltarol uses a simple narrative. A husband complains that his wife is now much more active on holiday, thanks to Voltarol 12 Hour Gel, with a helpful dollop of the gel being applied to a sore knee to show that it is more effective than a tablet taken orally. This execution - part of a long-running series - brings to life the tangible benefits of the product a lot better than a man in a white coat. The “confident uses of visual and audible branding, product usage and a tangible message” make it “the best analgesic advert in an otherwise painfully cluttered category,” says Nielsen.


Bagged Snacks

Walkers: Gary Lineker in hospital

Product: Walkers Mixups

Net impact: 68%

England captain, avuncular football pundit and crisp frontman Gary Lineker here trades on his alternative identity as a secretly malign figure by ostentatiously enjoying a bag of Walkers’ Mixups during a hospital stay, despite his children looking on hungrily. Such is the Mixups’ seductive power that the kids fiddle with the controls on his hospital bed, folding Lineker neatly, if painfully, in half and allowing them to steal his bag of crisps. Say what you want about narrative simplicity and family-friendly predictability, but there’s no arguing with that 68% brand impact score.



Duracell: Desert bunny race

Product: Duracell batteries

Net impact: 51%

Simplicity and adorability are a killer ­combination in advertising, and here they are used to great effect to tell the story of a desert race in which the competitors are powered by zinc batteries. The ad uses “novel imagery and audio cues,” says Nielsen, as each one of the competitor bunnies (and its batteries) is forced to concede defeat to the unmatchable energy of the iconic Duracell bunny. This might be reiterating a brand USP we’re all achingly familiar with but, using a touch of comedy, it still works brilliantly. And to our fluffy pink friend the spoils.



Warburtons: The Muppets

Product: Giant Crumpets

Net impact: 55%

The first thought is ‘how much did this cost?’ In this ad, the Muppets are involved in an all-singing, all-dancing, giant crumpet-selling extravaganza, in which they work in the factory, drive Warbies’ giant crumpets to their destinations and end up appearing in a huge cavalcade at the end, with a minor digression while Miss Piggy attempts to seduce the eponymous owner. The latest Peter Kay epic is bold and brassy, but this social media-friendly campaign entertains and seduces with its winning, Muppety charm. It duly went viral and put the ‘fun’ back in bread products.


Breakfast cereals

Kellogg’s: Man wears pink knickers

Product: Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut

Net impact: 54%

Continuing the Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut theme that ‘the trouble is they taste too good’, this ad has a man rushing to get ready for work, and yet is sadly unable to find any pants, and ends up wearing his partner’s pink lacy pair instead. Once he gets stuck into his Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut, any thought he may have made an error is banished. Even when his partner returns with a pal, he only looks up for a second before turning back to his Crunchy Nut. An ideal ad for the very large number of men who have worn knickers, but who might not care to admit it.



McVitie’s: sweeet kittens

Brand: Chocolate Digestives Nibbles

Net impact: 62%

“Meme-tastic, adorbs, viral” - just a few bits of “millennial slang” that Nielsen say fittingly sum up this super-cute ad from McVitie’s, which shows a litter of kittens emerging from a pack of Chocolate Digestives Nibbles, looking wide-eyed, innocent and, yes, sweeet. The kittens duly charm the socks off everyone - including TV viewers - and are cradled, kissed and made to purr like small furry Geiger counters. If the link between cuteness and Chocolate Digestives Nibbles was too ambiguous, McVitie’s drove the point home even further by creating an ‘iKitten’ app available on iOS and Android. Social media duly went into viral meltdown, doing the brand’s work for them. For all its sweetness, this was a cunning campaign, brilliantly executed.


Butters & Spreads

Flora: The Three Week Challenge

Product: Flora ProActiv

Net impact: 46%

How do you lower your cholesterol? Exercise and healthy eating would be a good start. But the story of Janet and Ivor tells us that Flora ProActiv helps too. You see, Janet was worried about Ivor’s cholesterol, but it turned out her cholesterol was problematic, too. They both ate Flora ProActiv - and presumably made a few other lifestyle changes - and hey presto! Their cholesterol came down. With illustrative shots of people enjoying an active life, this ends with the killer stat that 82% of people lowered their cholesterol in three weeks with the spread.

coca-cola truck

Carbonated soft drinks

Coca-Cola: The Coca-Cola truck

Product: Coca-Cola

Net impact: 50%

News that the iconic Coca-Cola truck had broken down in the wilds of Lincolnshire made Britain snigger, but that’s only because the brand has thrown millions at making itself synonymous with Christmas. This advert is another brick in that wall, with a town turning out to see the Coca-Cola truck rolling through as a sign that the holidays are here. The ad does raise some questions: has a US truck come to Blighty or are we in America? More importantly, why does fizzy pop herald the start of Christmas? But there’s no arguing with Coca-Cola’s spending power or the ad’s iconography.

Dreamies cat food


Dreamies: Cat runs through wall

Product: Dreamies Cat Treats

Net impact: 46%

Cats will do anything for the “great taste of Dreamies”. Even leap through solid brick walls, apparently, leaving their owners facing an unenviably tricky plastering job. Humorously building on its well-rehearsed tagline as a treat ‘cats can’t resist’ this offer from Dreamies is short but sweet. “The brand clearly reminds how incorporating humour into advertising can be an effective tool,” says Nielsen. “The fact this bizarre incident is happening in a casual home setting only heightens the ad’s cut through.” And no doubt appeals to the UK’s many cat lovers, as well as their furry friends.

phili cheese


Philadelphia: Angels

Product: Philadelphia Mediterranean Herbs

Net impact: 53%

A 10-second spot has to work hard to get any new information across, but this ad makes it look effortless. “Short and effective,” says Nielsen, the clip uses bright lighting, floaty, ethereal music and its instantly recognisable angels - first seen in the mid-1990s - to tell viewers about the new Mediterranean herb flavour Philadelphia. The ad shows a lightness of touch in every sense: it is not only humorous, with the angels once again tucking into a snack enthusiastically; the use of them reinforces the wider point that this cream cheese is healthier and lighter, without a ponderous health claim.


Chocolate confectionery

Maltesers: Catch them while you can

Product: MaltEaster Bunnies

Net impact: 55%

This MaltEaster ad, featuring Katherine Parkinson from The IT Crowd and Amanda Abbington (aka Mrs Watson in the BBC’s Sherlock) is screened each year in the run-up to Easter, and gets more effective as Parkinson and Abbington’s careers continue to develop. One gives the other a chocolate bunny as a present. The other notices that the rabbit is lacking a leg. Instead of taking umbrage that the present is half-eaten, she bites the other leg off the rabbit. The use of humour is key in products such as confectionery, according to Nielsen, and this dotty caper is a masterclass.



Strongbow: Cloud shoots an arrow

Product: Strongbow Cloudy Apple

Net impact: 52%

There’s nothing like aiming high. A giant, cloudy bowman shoots a lightning arrow to a portentous soundtrack, emphasising that Strongbow’s new, cloudy apples create ‘premium refreshment’. Tying into previous use of the archer and arrow imagery originally designed in the 1960s by graphic designer Barney Bubbles, you would know this was a Strongbow ad even without the gravel-voiced payoff. Pompous and overblown? Maybe, but there’s no denying the persistence of the imagery or the simple message that this drink is not only refreshing, but cloudy too.


Cleaning products

Dettol: Boy touches light

Product: Dettol cleaning products

Net impact: 46%

There might be a lot of information to communicate in this 20-second spot but Dettol pulls it off, rattling at great speed through its clear narrative. A child sneezes and touches a light switch, which then glows ominously red as cold and flu viruses can live on surfaces for 48 hours. But when Dettol spray is used to disinfect a door handle we are told that it successfully kills 99.9% of viruses and germs. “Strong narration” and “clearly outlined” benefits made this ad work, says Nielsen, though “timing is also crucial” with the campaign aired just as cold and flu season arrived.

old el paso

Cooking sauces

Old El Paso: Danny Trejo

Product: Stand ‘N’ Stuff Tortillas

Net impact: 57%

Hollywood bad guy Danny Trejo might seem an unusual choice for a packaged food brand that relies on the idea of a wholesome family sharing its products, but the actor created an “instantly recognisable character” for the brand, says Nielsen. Here the star of Desperado declares war on dull dinners, saying ‘tonight, we stand and stuff’, as though it’s something involving firearms and the Alamo. He’s actually talking about tortillas, which he invites you to “fill with heart and soul”. The family duly oblige and, to the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance, stand and stuff.


Dental care

Fixodent: Downsizing

Product: Fixodent Dental Adhesive

Net impact: 47%

Fixodent’s ad belongs squarely in the deeply sensible tradition of simply showing the consumer your product being used, and then some. For this spot, it used a giant, computerised set of dentures locking into place. We see the ad’s narrator being downsized and dislodged from a wobbly set of fake molars by a giant carrot. The mistake the owner had made was not using Fixodent adhesive. To reinforce the point, the narrator, now restored to her perch, duly bites into an apple with complete confidence. Unusual, perhaps, but also memorable and very effective.



Pedigree: Dogs on yellow backdrop

Product: Pedigree Jumbone

Net impact: 37%

Everyone likes puppies, especially puppies busily getting stuck into tasty snacks. And Pedigree gets that. In this ad, we don’t see anything but a yellow screen, the adorable hound and his Jumbone. (The speed with which he demolishes the snack is testament to its tastiness.) With narration from the cuddly Nick Frost, whose script is mainly made up of the phrase ‘om nom nom’, the point is eloquently made that a Jumbone will make your dog happy. Quite simply “the combination of a puppy, sound effects and a celebrity narrator” breed success for the brand, says Nielsen.

Happy Eggs


Happy Egg Company: Making meals

Product: The Happy Egg Company eggs

Net impact: 39%

‘The Happy Egg Company is where happy hens lay tasty eggs’, this upbeat ad tells us. The idea is that the happiness enjoyed by the hens is contagious, which is why the ad joyfully spins off into a whole lot of egg-related activities and dancing. From the slightly sheepish farmer with his box of eggs to the excited aerobics instructor dancing around their respective houses, everyone in this ad is glad to be alive because their eggs come from hens that, presumably, are very happy not to be in a battery farm. At a time when ethical eggs are high on the public agenda, this ad is bang on.



Optrex: Sunflower pollen

Product: Optrex ActiMist Spray

Net impact: 44%

“With so many pharmaceutical ads competing for our attention and money, making different creative choices can pay off,” says Nielsen of this campaign from Optrex. A woman walking through cornflowers finds pollen clogging up the surface of her eye before one squirt of ActiMist clears up the problem instantly. From identification of a need to its resolution takes just over 20 seconds, but it’s brilliantly effective and intelligently directed. For Nielsen the voiceover “doesn’t bombard viewers with information which can cause confusion” while the extreme eye close-up “grabs our attention.”


Fabric conditioner

Febreze: Man sprays away smell

Product: Febreze Fabric Refresher

Net impact: 54%

Playing on its tried and tested concept of ‘nose blindness’ here Febreze arms a man, his dog and one particularly pungent hamburger with a bottle of its magic spray to appease a disgruntled wife and shift that foul odour. Transforming furniture into old food this ad drives the message home again and again for Febreze with a touch of humour while, to really underline its function, “the fabric spray is featured heavily” in shots too, Nielsen points out, until the idea is firmly rooted in our minds that Febreze is the best way to prevent our stinky furniture from upsetting our partners.

weetabix milk

Flavoured milk

Weetabix: A proper breakfast bottled

Product: Weetabix On the Go

Net impact: 55%

The take-home from this ad is that Weetabix will provide you with a proper breakfast in a small bottle, instantly giving you energy, protein and fibre. In it a young man is so busy he doesn’t bother with dressing, he sleeps in his suit. He doesn’t bother with public transport either, simply leaping between the different locations necessary for his commute. A very memorable and highly original approach to the morning routine, only slightly undermined by the nagging thought that if this is your morning, then you should probably apply for a less stressful job.


Frozen ready meals

Quorn: A really tasty lasagne

Product: Quorn Foods

Net impact: 42%

Time was when vegetarians were seen as the wheezy boys and girls who were excused games because of a note from their mothers. Not any more. Quorn has enlisted the help of Olympic gold medallists Kate Richardson-Walsh (a hockey player) and Adam Peaty (the world record-breaking swimmer), who have stepped into the shoes of brand ambassador Mo Farah. The presence of Olympic champs reinforces that Quorn is a healthy source of protein, and with Kate’s lasagne recipe available on Quorn’s website, this is a campaign that spreads beyond its 30-second slot.



Airwaves: The Airwaves kick

Product: Airwaves Chewing Gum

Net impact: 38%

Ten-second ads give ad creatives little room for manoeuvre. Airwaves has decided that the best way to articulate the freshness of its chewing gum in this timeframe is to show a man stuck in traffic. Bored, he tries a couple of pieces of gum from the new Airwaves bottle - and his Ford Focus magically turns into the BTCC racing car sponsored by the brand. He’s still stuck in traffic, you understand, only now he’s in a faster car with a fresher mouth. Rooted in a setting we can all empathise with and supported by an upbeat soundtrack, this ad hot hatches your mouth.


Hand dishwash

Fairy: Boy wants a spaceship

Product: Fairy Detergent

Net impact: 57%

This gem first aired in 2015 but it was still the highest performing ad for P&G in 2017, says Nielsen. Its core message is the same as ever: Fairy lasts 50% longer than the next bestselling brand. To drive the point home, a young lad wants to make a spaceship, but has to wait longer - 50% longer, perhaps - to get his hands on the bottle. It isn’t a sophisticated narrative - and there’s no sampled music or artful direction - but as the boy crosses off dates on the domestic calendar it is hugely effective at communicating why to opt for Fairy over its rivals with an “upbeat and relatable storyline”.

Ben & jerrys

Handheld ice cream

Ben & Jerry’s: Ice-cream sandwich

Product: Ben & Jerry’s ’Wich

Net impact: 41%

With its “whimsical voiceover and comedic construction of their famous ice-creams” Ben & Jerry’s has created a signature advertising style that is both “engaging and ownable,” says Nielsen. Here the theme continues as cows dance around jerkily on the animated landscape, finally flipping over, with their gangly legs peeking out of a suitcase, just as the voiceover tells us about the brand’s new ’Wich, ice cream wedged between two cookies. Our eyes are entertained by the cavorting cow and our brains are beguiled too, making this a sweet, ­effective advert.

Kelllys Ice cream

Ice cream

Kelly’s: Speak Cornish

Product: Kelly’s of Cornwall ice cream

Net impact: 49%

Taking place atop a cliff in Cornwall, this ad for Kelly’s Cornish ice cream plays delightfully on the impenetrable Cornish banter of its protagonists at the ice cream parlour (while also featuring countless cows, of course). Fortunately there are one or two easily translatable phrases to help viewers out. With its ‘#SpeakCornish’ caption featured throughout and a hearty dose of humour, this campaign gets across Kelly’s proud regional heritage. “A risky but rewarding ­campaign,” says Nielsen.


Jams & spreads

Nutella: Wake up to Nutella

Product: Nutella Hazelnut Spread

Net impact: 44%

Spread, dunk, sprinkle and cover. Sounds like advice given in an American nuclear safety warning from the 1950s, but no, they’re all the things this ad says you can do with Nutella of a morning. It gives Nutella an opportunity to thank its consumers for choosing it for their respective breakfasts, a cross-section of whom are represented here. The friendly, upbeat voice used to tie the whole confection together keeps things moving along at a lively, fun pace, and with users of all genders and ages enjoying the spread the “brand is conveyed as suitable for all,” says Nielsen.



Coors: Van Damme builds an ice bar

Product: Coors Light

Net impact: 52%

Bad irony sells. That’s the message of the Coors ads, in which a be-mulleted Jean-Claude Van Damme wears stonewashed double denim in pursuit of the ice cold refreshment only Coors can provide. Here, the ‘muscles from Brussels’ builds an ice bar by foot and hand, kicking and chopping his way through slabs of ice and throwing furs over ice armchairs until he is forced to concede that even his latest creation doesn’t come close. Whatever you think about the acting, the karate or the guitar-driven soundtrack, you can’t escape the idea that Coors beer is indeed ice cold.



Vanish: New parents - poo stains

Product: Vanish Gold

Net impact: 47%

Household brands sharing helpful tips with users is a trick Vanish practically invented, with its online Tip Exchange forum packed with advice on removing everything from blood to mud. And the brand builds on the success of that approach here by tackling the question uppermost in new parents’ minds: how do you shift this poo stain? The tone is reassuring, suggesting to people who might only have had two hours’ sleep between feeds that their fears are unfounded, and brings Vanish straight to the rescue, daubing it on the stain. An ad and a handy ‘how to’ manual in one.



Cravendale: The Milk Drinker’s Milk

Product: Cravendale Milk

Net impact: 44%

A single, slightly shopworn but unmistakably cool cowboy figure, identified only as ‘The Milk Drinker’, is the focal point of this ad for Cravendale, which has an impressive advertising pedigree. Such is his love for milk that we see him zealously guarding his glass of the white stuff in a range of situations - sitting in his car, drumming, riding a sedate mechanical bull, dancing and propping up the bar at his local pub - which is obviously called The Bull. We’re given the impression not only that milk is too tasty to put down but also, curiously, that it’s an edgy drink for outsiders. No mean feat.



Corsodyl: Bleeding gums ‘dream’

Product: Corsodyl Mouthwash

Net impact: 48%

There are many ways of selling your product to consumers. One is scaring them to death. An urgent voiceover narrates as a woman wakes up and starts spitting out teeth, only to reveal that it’s all been a nightmare. But there’s a graphic twist as she ‘wakes’ again to inspect her ominously bleeding gums and missing tooth. Much as you may want to rebuke the mouthwash manufacturer for its scaremongering tactic, there’s no arguing with the sense that Corsodyl has the answer. This leaves “a long lasting bad taste in the mouth,” says Nielsen - a great thing if you’re Corsodyl.



Pampers: Where did the pee go?

Product: Pampers Baby-dry nappies

Net impact: 38%

Wet bulk is unlikely to be a problem for anyone reading this magazine, but for babies, it’s a pressing issue. It’s when urine expelled into a nappy overnight turns into a single, solid, lumpen mass. Pampers has the answer, using special channels in the nappy to direct the pee and solve the problem. ‘Where did all the pee go?’ this ad asks, using some wide-eyed, adorable and mildly surprised-looking babies to illustrate the point. After Pampers drew fire for advertising nappies for premature babies, this got the brand back on track in a humorous, lighthearted and relatable way.



Gaviscon: Tim and Tom take on heartburn

Product: Gaviscon Antacid Rx Double Action

Net impact: 68%

Transforming heartburn medication into the stuff of memorable TV ads might look like a tall order, but Gaviscon has become an “advertising powerhouse” nevertheless, according to Nielsen. Having created its “instantly recognisable” fireman, identical twins Tim and Tom are now “heavily associated” with the brand too. Here the pair, helpfully attired in blue and pink polo shirts, are assailed by respective heartburn woes. Happily, the irrepressible fireman comes to the rescue, surfing down a wave of gooey Gaviscon.


Paper products

Plenty: Super Juan cleans up

Product: Plenty Paper Towels

Net impact: 46%

The first ironic fmcg superhero was Mr Muscle, who famously loved the jobs you hated. Super Juan is more exotic - a Zorro character - who boasts that you only need ‘juan’ sheet (the ‘super’ part is supposedly self-evident). Our hero combines two rolls into one, making double the sheets, and becomes, in the husky words of the voiceover, “twice the man”. The take-home here is that “one roll does plenty more”, which is why Juan now has a billowing green cape. The “clear storyline and superhero parody increase cut-through” here, says Nielsen, making this a “super” campaign.


Pediatric analgesic

Calpol: Let kids be kids

Product: Calpol Pain Relief

Net impact: 38%

Exploding the definition of ‘normal,’ Calpol shows us children sitting at the kitchen table with their pants on their head, for example, while another hosts a tea party for domestic appliances. The ad tugs at the heartstrings, reminding us that most kids are adorably creative, weird and wonderful - except when illness temporarily knocks them sideways. “With engaging music and a household setting parents can easily relate to,” says Nielsen, the ad reassures consumers that the bestselling paediatric analgesic will be there to get their kids back to ‘normal’.


Pot desserts

Müller: Bear in office

Product: Müller rice

Net impact: 57%

The ad industry often talks about ‘cut-through,’ in which a campaign creates such an arresting image, uses music so brilliantly or hits upon a combination of the two so well that all other images are cast hither and yon by its brilliance. A bear dancing to a version of rap aberration ‘Ice Ice Baby’ with the words not-so-subtly changed to ‘rice, rice baby’ seems an unlikely candidate, but the bear - Tasty B - and his Müller Rice have been cutting right through the noise since they first appeared in 2014. As Nielsen sums up, this campaign is “hard to miss and hard to forget”.

Uncle Ben's


Uncle Ben’s: Animated father & son

Product: Uncle Ben’s Rice

Net impact: 49%

Nobody would ever have thought a rice brand could pack such an emotional punch. But with an artful reimagining of Peter Frampton’s ‘Show Me The Way’ and two lovable animated characters, that’s exactly what this Uncle Ben’s ad does here, as a father decides to cook healthy food with his son. The heartwarming ad shrewdly wears its corporate identity lightly too, with only short glimpses of the logo on the box of rice at the start and end of the ad. This combination of “relatable storyline” with tender animation can work wonders for a brand, says Nielsen.


Sanitary products

Tena: Woman sneezes

Product: Tena Serenity Lights

Net impact: 51%

Because ‘oops moments happen’, there are Tena Lights. This sounds unbearably twee, But “by incorporating humour against the usual stigma of urinary incontinence” Tena sets the standard here for how to market products that come with a taboo, says Nielsen. The Tena Lights wearer in question is in an Alpine ski lodge and talks throughout the advert in a French accent that owes something to ‘Allo ’Allo, showing that she is indifferent to a range of life’s mishaps, including incontinence. In fact, when she has an ’oops moment’ she shrugs and says ‘c’est la vie’.

Jacobs cheddars

Savoury biscuits

Jacobs: Men dressed as mice

Product: Jacobs Mini Cheddars

Net impact: 45%

This ad stars some tweedy old chaps - who just happen to be mice. These fine gentlemen of the Cheddar Appreciation Society - with small pointy ears, noses and whiskers - bicker over the arrival of three new flavours of Jacobs Mini Cheddars: Stilton, Smoked Cheddar and Red Leicester. Ignoring the fact that two of the three new variants aren’t even cheddar, the ad is timed to coincide with the arrival of the trio of NPD on shelf. The creepily convincing mouse make-up and humour of this ad all help nudge viewers to pick up one of the new flavours. Clever stuff.


Sex lubes

Vagisan: Camera pans women

Product: Vagisan MoistCream

Net impact: 48%

With a camera soberly panning a crowd of women stigmatised into silence about vaginal dryness, this ad gets straight to the point. Using carefully chosen stats to back up its case and a simple voiceover, this Vagisan ad isn’t jocular or particularly imaginative, but it’s provocative nonetheless in speaking out on an issue rarely touched upon publicly. It is tactful and addresses the subject without euphemism or pretence. It’s a lesson in how “TV spots that address sensitive issues with a degree of honesty and openness make a lasting impression,” says Nielsen.

head & shoulders


Head & Shoulders: Goalies

Product: Head & Shoulders Haircare

Net impact: 49%

Shoulders are made to carry a lot - criticism, praise, glory - but they shouldn’t carry dandruff. That’s the message here. Targeting football-loving blokes, it’s hired three international goalkeepers -Manuel Neuer, Joe Hart and Iker Casillas - to get that across, stressing that shoulders weren’t made for carrying dandruff. A brooding soundtrack, urgent voiceover and dark visuals elevate a product used in the bath and shower to something more fundamental, with the familiarity of each goalkeeper helping to ground the product - in Germany, England and Spain, anyway.

heinz soup


Heinz: The Look of Love

Product: Heinz Soup

Net impact: 45%

Quiet simplicity to a recognisable soundtrack is the order of the day here. To the tune of ‘The Look of Love’, we see a host of people pursing their lips in a tantalising pucker. Office workers, people with steamy glasses, bearded men, women who have been crying and children - everyone is united by their love… of soup. Such is the certainty in the Heinz brand that nobody needs to shout its virtues from the rooftops: the ad finishes on a large bowl of tomato soup. ‘Love soup?’ it asks. ‘It has to be…’ and a shot of the can alone is a sufficient payoff. Now that’s confidence.

Famous Grouse


The Famous Grouse: Mountain majesty

Product: The Famous Grouse Scotch

Net impact: 48%

Choosing to kick off this treatment with a sweeping shot over a lushly rendered waterfall, in colours aligned with the brand’s rosy golden glow, this ad for Famous Grouse is a “panoramic masterpiece”, says Nielsen. Ending with The Famous Grouse itself, perched on a rocky mountaintop, this ad “ticks all the boxes… illustrating how providing an epic setting, engaging jingle and humorous brand icon in a short advert can immediately engage an audience”. A cheeky wink from the grouse to camera in the closing seconds lends a humorous, feel-good payoff too, in keeping with the brand’s earlier campaigns.


Squashes and cordials

Robinsons: Set squash free

Product: Robinsons Squash’d

Net impact: 55%

Telling customers to #enjoymorewater is quite canny given how in essence this ad is telling them to drink more syrupy squash. Set to an upbeat dance soundtrack, the little capsule is thrown from user to user and scene to colourful scene (office, city park, car), each time demonstrating the versatility and portability of the little black triangle, while a close-up shot shows the squash being squished out into some refreshing water. Nielsen’s experts thought “its new and unique benefits clearly differentiated it in the marketplace” to capture the imagination.

Wethers Creamy

Sugar confectionery

Werther’s: Chef pours caramel

Product: Werther’s Original Creamy Caramel

Net impact: 62%

Glutinous, golden and slightly cloying - and that’s just the ad. Werther’s is known for a very singular approach to its TV ads, with olde worlde sweet shoppes in snow-lined Victorian streets playing host to adorably twee children. All are on display here as a little girl gazes through the window of said sweet shop at a twinkly eyed chef in spotless whites, as he lovingly pours out caramel into a giant sweet. Sickly sweet, perhaps, but this nostalgia works for the brand, says Nielsen, and provides it with vital differentiation in a category inundated with bold, brash campaigns.

heinz sauce

Table sauces

Heinz: Hot dog dogs

Product: Heinz Ketchup

Net impact: 47%

So simple you wonder why nobody had ever done it before, this shows a troupe of sausage dogs dressed as hot dogs scampering enthusiastically across a grassy meadow. Soon we realise they are heading for a group of people dressed as Heinz ketchup and mustard -the only sensible complement to a hot dog, of course. The faux-treacly music makes this a minor comic masterpiece, while the hashtag #Meettheketchups made it a brutally effective piece of multichannel marketing destined to turn viral on social media. It probably got a few Dachshunds adopted, too.


Toilet tissue

Andrex: Pup plays with paper

Product: Andrex toilet paper

Net impact: 55%

Supposedly Andrex originally wanted a little girl to run through the house trailing toilet paper, but the watchdog said it was wasteful. So, starting in 1972, it used an adorable puppy instead, and the rest is, well, “one of the best examples of brand iconography” in fmcg, as Nielsen puts it. This latest iteration was actually celebrating the 75th anniversary of Andrex (ie: way before the puppies ever featured) but they have star billing throughout in this gooey soft-filtered ad, as they should, given Andrex shifted an extra 900,000 packs and hit total sales of £360.7m in the past year.

Oral B


Oral-B: Woman visits her dentist

Product: Oral-B Power Brush

Net impact: 43%

Another ad in our ranking that manages to communicate a large amount of vital information in only 30 seconds, this Oral-B spot stars a single, female character. She chats to her dentist about manual and electric toothbrushes, and is told electric is best. We’re then advised to look out for the signature round brush head of Oral-B. Endorsement from dental experts might be a well-worn approach from this category, but the fact is it works. Particularly when a brand can boast the lofty credentials of being the number one, dentist-recommended brand worldwide.



Berocca: Big days start with Berocca

Product: Berocca Multivitamins

Net impact: 37%

Big days start with Berocca, apparently - and so do fast ads. This 20-second spot shows a man blazing through a heavy workload, before surviving a lift breakdown and dinner with the in-laws, all thanks to the effervescent orange tablets that keep our hero on the go. There is a comedy payoff in which more work is landed on our man’s desk, but the brisk, cheery pace and sense that the main character has it all under control say all the right things about Berocca. The final reiteration that it improves mental performance and physical stamina underlines the point nicely.


Winter remedies

Beechams: Power to feel better

Product: Beechams Max Strength All in One

Net impact: 50%

Beechams might have used “all the tropes of a typical pharmaceutical advert - product placement, animated description and voiceover” here but they’ve also “layered in some comical scenes that consumers can relate to,” says Nielsen. Via the ‘mattress man’ we learn what happens when you’re ill and you don’t take Beechams Max Strength All in One. Namely you have to go to work feeling like you’re carrying a vertical bed on your shoulders, forever blundering into water coolers and cluttering up the lift, all the while in possession of a gaping mouth and a bunged-up nose.

muller yoghurt


Müller: Nicole falls over

Product: Müller Simply Bliss

Net impact: 48%

Müller is determined to show that Nicole Scherzinger doesn’t take herself too seriously. Here, the former Pussycat Doll is sent up Mount Olympus, where she samples whipped Greek-style yoghurt and then falls over. Not the most orthodox or imaginative celebrity tie-in, this does however make good use of its figurehead and has a simple, uncomplicated narrative. The photogenic and wholesome Scherzinger, who’s covered her nose in yoghurt in a variety of different ads for the brand, makes an ideal figurehead, with her profile kept high by her role as an X Factor judge.


Yoghurt drink

Yakult: Ancient Magic

Product: Yakult Probiotic Drink

Net impact: 42%

This is a refreshing take on a tired theme, in which a spoof meta-ad tells us Yakult is a product of the ancient Japanese hills: a magical essence distilled from the giant bonsai tree. Except… there’s no such thing. As the second half of the ad points out, this is all absolute nonsense. Yakult, it tells us, was in fact developed by Japanese scientists, who have worked to develop a drink made with bacteria that will reach our gut alive. The ‘mystical’ voiceover woman keeps trying to interrupt, but her sensible companion points out that this is a little bottle of science - not magic.