It looks like the cuteness factor -- of kids -- worked well in advertising in 2011, according to new Nielsen research. And for branded integrations, sitcoms appeared to work better than dramas for brand recall.
The ratings company found that 3 of the top-5 most-liked network prime-time ads in 2011 featured children, while 4 of the top 5 most-remembered integrations were half-hour comedies.
The most-liked ad, per Nielsen, was the Volkswagen Super Bowl ad featuring a child dressed as “Star Wars” character Darth Vader. Nielsen said the ad scored a 231 on its “Nielsen Likeability Index (NLI),” meaning it was "liked" more than twice as much as the typical ad.
The second-most-liked ad was for Nabisco’s Oreo cookie, featuring a boy who wakes up around midnight for a Father’s Day treat. It scored a 201 on the NLI.
Third-ranked was a spot for St. Jude’s Children's Hospital featuring snowboarder Shaun White and kids with wigs mimicking White’s shock of red hair. It garnered an NLI score of 191.
Fourth-ranked was a spot for Hallmark, featuring a deployed soldier who shares holidays with his family when he flips through a recorded storybook. NLI score: 190. Rounding out the top 5 was a milk ad featuring a cow telling a mom to change her “mom jeans” and show off her “Bundt cake.” It scored a 189 on the NLI.
Nielsen said that only new ad executions were considered for the 2011 list. Nielsen defined the NLI as the percentage of TV viewers who reported liking an ad “a lot” during the normal course of viewing TV among those recalling the brand of the ad.
For branded integrations, hand sanitizer Purell had the highest recall of the year for a bit that ran in an October episode of CBS "Big Bang Theory." A character uses the product after putting a snake in a desk drawer. The segment scored a 271 on the Nielsen Recall Index (NRI), meaning viewers were nearly three times as likely to remember it compared to the typical integration.
A Red Bull segment in a September episode of ABC’s Suburgatory was ranked second on the Nielsen integrations list with a recall score of 214. A character in the show describes Red Bull as the official drink of suburbia. A segment featuring toymaker Milton Bradley’s Twister placed third in a November episode of "Big Bang Theory" with a recall score of 208. Following closely in fourth place was a Ferrari integration in a February episode of ABC’s "Castle" that scored a 207. The fifth-ranked integration was for Subway in a March episode of "Chuck" that scored a 206.
Nielsen also reported network shows with the most product placements for the year. The top five were Fox’s "American Idol" with 577 placements; NBC’s "The Biggest Loser" (533); "NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice" (391); ABC’s "Dancing with the Stars" (390) and Fox’s "The X Factor" (312).