It doesn’t take much for Super Bowl viewers to conclude that Madison Avenue believes humor is a winner. Nielsen research found “audience-appropriate humor” is one of
five “common characteristics” that yield successful TV spots based on viewer “memorability.”
Also on the list is relatability. Boiled down: hipsters at a concert in a Budweiser spot may not make prune-juice lovers try more beer. “Audiences will connect with personalities and scenarios that they can identify with,” Nielsen says.
The research was generated from the Nielsen TV Brand Effect service, which is based on viewer surveys. Even with adherence to tactics Nielsen finds effective, advertisers to work to stand out. An average of 38 ads a minute air on a collection of national TV outlets.
“The ability to create a true winning commercial is an undeniable art form, but there’s science behind it, too,” stated Joe Stagaman, a Nielsen executive vice president in advertising effectiveness analytics.
Nielsen says ads with a “simple and upbeat storyline” cut through. Spots can’t just dole out information, but need to establish a narrative. The best ones need impactful dialogue, so “changing a message from simple prose to a conversation will give the story life," the report concludes.
As marketers are increasingly turning to neuroscience to offer insights into ad resonance, Nielsen found that ads building “an emotional connection” are effective “by triggering the brain to identify an experience as important enough to remember.” That would dovetail with the highly praised 2011 Super Bowl commercial for Volkswagen with a mini-Darth Vader achieving a dream -- which featured plenty of humor, too.