How effective were restaurant, beverage and packaged foods' brands' TV ads in 2013?
Ace Metrix's 2014 Blackbook edition, which reveals how well the TV ads of 1,400 brands across 33 categories stacked up in 2013 versus 2012 based on brands' Ace Scores, shows mixed performance among these consumable categories:
*Casual dining restaurants: Casual dining restaurants' TV ads ranked highest of all categories in 2013, with an average Ace Score of 583 (flat with the category's 2012 average). This category displaced appliances for the #1 ranking (appliances' average Ace was 574 in 2013, down 3% from 2012).
Nearly 40% of the ads in the casual dining category achieved Ace Scores of 600 or higher. This reflects consistently high scores in three of the persuasion metrics that go into calculating the Ace Score — desire, likeability and attention (the other three metrics are change, relevance and information).
Two casual dining brands — Longhorn Steakhouse and TGI Fridays — tied for #1 among chains with "broad portfolios" (five or more unique pieces of ad creative), with Ace Scores of 618, and #3 Olive Garden was just a point behind. Other leaders were IHOP (604), Red Lobster (598), Outback (596), Ruby Tuesday (596), Applebee's (590), Carrabba's Italian Grill (590) and Chili's Grill & Bar (584).
Joe’s Crab Shack showed the biggest improvement among casual dining brand ads last year: Its Ace Score jumped by 68 points (or 13.4%), to 574.
Leaders among those with narrow creative portfolios included Coco's Bakery (582), Cracker Barrel (548), Moe's Southwest Grill (546), Beef O' Brady's (520) and Hooters (484).
Olive Garden and Carrabba's were also among the year's 10 highest scorers, across all categories, on a separate Ace Metrix measurement, the Emotional Sentiment Index.
*QSR restaurants: While the average Ace Score for QSR TV ads declined 2.1% in 2013, to 551, QSRs nevertheless remained among the highest-scoring categories.
Pizza companies outscored burger brands by 6.2%, and other QSR advertisers by 1.8%.
Still, Baskin-Robbins' TV ads won first place in the category among chains with broad creative portfolios in 2013, with a 594 average Ace that edged out Pizza Hut's by one point. (Baskin-Robbins ran only 15-second-format TV spots, maximizing its media budget with alluring visuals of its ice cream flavors.)
Other broad-portfolio QSRs with leading TV ads were Panera Bread (591 average Ace), Boston Market (580), Domino's Pizza (580), Dairy Queen/other QSRs (577), KFC (566), Taco Bell (564), Sonic (558), Wendy's (558), Subway (557), Little Caesars (554), Popeyes (553) and Long John Silver's and Papa John's (both with 552 scores).
The leaders among those with narrow creative portfolios were Dairy Queen Burger (583), Cici's Pizza (553), Bojangles (552), Chick-fil-A (531) and Taco Cabana (495).
*Beverages, soda: Soda saw a 7.4% drop in year-over-year advertising effectiveness. Still, its average Ace score of 509 placed it dead-center among all of the other categories tracked (16 categories ranked higher, 16 ranked lower).
The soda category's 2013 ads were dominated by 15-second formats that didn't perform as well as 30-second formats, as well as by ads that "were very narrowly targeted or featured celebrities more than the product," reports Ace Metrix.
Coca-Cola and Pepsi dominated the ad volume in the category, together generating 41% of the new creative.
Coca-Cola's TV ads ranked #1, even though their average Ace of 550 was down by 6% versus the brand's 2012 average score of 585. Dr. Pepper came in second among the broad portfolio brands, although its 522 average score was down 4.9% compared to 2012's 549. Pepsi was #3, with a 496, down 4.2% from 518. Coke Zero was #4, with 489, down a significant 18.4% from 2012's 599. Dr. Pepper Diet was #5, with an Ace of 471 — also down significantly, in this case by 17.9% versus 2012's 574.
7 Up led brands with narrow portfolios of creative (+3.6%, to 548), followed by Diet Coke (501), Diet Pepsi (498), Sun Drop (492) and Dr Pepper 10 (488) .
*Beverages, non-alcoholic: As a category, the average Ace Score for other (non-soda) non-alcoholic beverage brands (including energy, sports, juice, coffee, tea and bottled water drinks) rose 1.7% in 2013, to 544.
Tropicana was #1 among broad-portfolio brands, and also among the year's biggest gainers across categories, with a 48-point jump, to achieve an average Ace of 617 last year. Dunkin' Donuts' coffee and tea brands were #2 (at 551), and Lipton brand drinks were #3 (556). Gatorade (547) and Coffee-mate (539) rounded out the top five.
Among narrow creative portfolio brands, the leaders were Evian (633), Florida's Natural (616), Simply Juice (608), Ocean Spray (594) and Welch's (588).
*Beverages, spirits: Spirits had one of the lower average Ace Scores among the 33 categories – 466 – but that tends to be true for liquor by dint of the fact that the universe of hard-liquor and wine drinkers is somewhat narrower than other categories'.
Among the broad-portfolio brands, Bacardi was #1 (jumping up from 11th in 2012), with an average Ace of 509, thanks to its creative featuring its rich, Cuban history. Smirnoff was #2 (495), followed by Jack Daniel's (474), Jameson Irish Whiskey (472) and Patron (452).
Among the 40 different narrow-portfolio brands last year, the leaders were Bailey's Irish Cream (559), Parrot Bay (531), Dally's Cocktails (527), J.P. Wiser's (523) and Barefoot Wine (518).
*Beverages, beer: The beer category achieved the second-highest average Ace Score gain among the 33 categories tracked (+1.9%, to 486), trailing only financial services/real estate (+5.2%) in terms of year-over-year change.
Samuel Adams (512) moved into the top position among broad portfolio advertisers, followed by Guinness (500), Budweiser (495), Heineken (495) and Budweiser Black Crown (491).
Budweiser was among the top gainers across categories, with a 34-point jump in its average score last year.
Among narrow portfolio brands, the leaders were newcomer Angry Orchard Cider (with a pair of spots that averaged 562), followed by Fat Tire (562), Corona Light (513), Leinenkugels (513), Shock Top (513), Beck's (512) and Bud Lime-A-Rita (506).
*Packaged foods: The average 2013 Ace for this largest category was 546, down 2% from 2012, but that still made it the eighth-ranked category overall. (Packaged foods, like all food categories, tends to pull higher-than average scores, compared to non-food categories.)
Packaged foods had the fourth-largest number of new ad create in 2013 (airing 8.7% more new ads versus 2012).
The highest-ranked ads among broad-portfolio packaged food brands were Marie Callender's', with an average Ace of 573 (up from 12th place in 2012). This brand's highest-scoring ads focused on the traditional, homemade quality of its food and its quality ingredients.
Oscar Mayer was #2 (its 570 Ace was flat with 2012's), with ads that used humor to get consumers' attention.
Pillsbury was #3 for the third year in a row (despite a 3.6% decline in average Ace Score, to 567).
2013's other broad-portfolio leaders included Campbell's (564); Hidden Valley (563); Nestle Staples (563); Cheerios (562); Yoplait (552); Kellogg's cereals (549) and Progresso (526).
Cool Whip not only led the narrow-portfolio packaged foods brands, but produced the creative with the highest score among all packaged foods TV ads last year (680). The ad, "Mistreated and Hurt," focused on the brand's new refrigerated frosting.
Other narrow-portfolio leaders included Spice Islands (653), ConAgra (629), Hillshire Farm (628), Knorr (618), Reddi-Wip (617) and Dole (616).
More information about the Blackbook is available on Ace Metrix's site.