Celebrities Drive Recognition of Ads

The clever use of celebrities helped push Doritos, Payless Shoes and Campbell’s to the top of a survey that tests consumers’ recall of primetime television advertising.

At the head of the pack was a Doritos’ “Salsa” chips ad starring Latin singing sensation Enrique Iglesias. Following close behind were ads with “The View” co-host Star Jones discussing Payless’s half-off sale and inspiration plus a Campbell’s Chunky Roasted Favorites soup with New York Giants football player Michael Strahan and his mother serving Honey Roasted Ham and Potatoes soup to subway riders.

The survey is conducted biweekly by up to 150,000 people being tested and playing games on a Reward TV Website run by the Intermedia Advertising Group in New York. Since it started last October, Intermedia has collected about 10 million ad surveys. Every ad running on nationwide primetime on the six broadcast networks is tracked.

Intermedia president Cheryl Idell said in the year the firm has been collecting survey data, a key to an ad’s success has been its use of celebrities.



“That’s been a very constant theme. Celebrity endorsers absolutely work well but the interesting theme is that they have to be tied in well with the product,” Idell said.

Idell said that a celebrity’s role in ads is to grab attention. Former “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander’s turn for KFC helped the chicken restaurant chain to greater success than it had in other ads, she said.

Other keys to success are entertaining and engaging storylines, also present in the KFC ads.

“Consumers like humor and I think it attached humor and they related to the story that’s being played out,” she said.

One of this survey’s top performers: A Dupont ad that hawked its Stainmaster carpet brand, with a father whose screaming baby sleeps when it’s set on the carpet.

“It’s taking what should be a mundane topic, the comfort of a carpet and how nice it will feel, and rather than screaming blatantly about the carpet they tell a story about it,” Idell said.

In other words, Idell said, the recall index measures the ad’s ability to break through the clutter.

This survey’s top 10 new commercials rated by recall index: Doritos Salsa chips, Enrique Iglesias with a bag of chips; Payless half-off sale with Star Jones; Campbell’s Chunky Roasted Favorites soup; Capital One No-Hassle Card with yeti attacking couple at winter cabin; Burger King Value Menu with drive-through menu in an elevator; another Campbell’s Chunky soup commercial with mother bringing soup to classroom; DuPont Stainmaster carpet; Home Depot ad with mother changing child’s room into a bathroom; Lee Performance Khaki’s with woman pouring red wine onto pants; and Sears appliances with woman putting salesman’s clothes in washer.

None of the brands in the recall index listed above appeared in the likeability index chart. Idell said that just because an ad scores high, it doesn’t mean that it will score high on likeability. None of the ads featuring celebrities scored highest on likeability. The top of the likeability chart was Dodge Caravan’s Monster’s Inc. ad. Also on the list were FedEx’s Ground BBQ grill story and Quaker’s Raisin Cinnamon Swirl, with Mass Mutual and Sony ads rounding out the top five.

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