As brands continue to shift their messages to support the Black Lives Matter movement, analysts are working to identify the advertisements and messages that resonate most with U.S. audiences.
Unruly studied the role and impact of race and stereotypes in advertising.
On Tuesday the company released data to help marketers better understand consumer reactions, emotions and sentiment in response to these ads.
What resonated most? "No audio, heavy text overlay statement," said Terence Scroope, VP Insights and Solutions, Unruly. "In the case of Disney and Nike, you have no narrator, but a somber background. The entire ad is designed around the consumer reading it."
Scroope said the ads force consumers to use a different part of their brain that otherwise falls dormant while watching a video. McDonald's and Nike chose to focus on some of the names that have become part of the headlines in the cause.
About 500 panelists in five age brackets—18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55 and older—took place in the survey. Each watched a series of advertisements. The general trend for these videos found them more favored by younger consumers under age 34, compared with consumers age 45 or older. After each ad they were asked to answer questions in a survey.
Analyzed were spots from Nike, McDonald’s, NFL, and P&G. Inspiration was the strongest emotion consumers felt while watching, with 25% of viewers feeling inspired while watching Nike’s ad, 23% for McDonald’s, 28% for the NFL ad and 24% for P&G.
“There is always going to be a percentage of respondents who either feel contempt or disgust,” said Terence Scroope, VP Insights and Solutions, Unruly. “We saw Black Live Matter ads in the 10% range, which was higher than the benchmark for the U.S. market. Negative perceptions of these ads is always there. It’s a fallacy to think brands can make these progressive ads without offending someone.”
The NFL and Nike ads scored 52% in terms of brand favorability, up 13% above the U.S. average.
Inspiration was the highest evoked emotion, with 28% feeling inspired watching the NFL’s ‘BLM US’ ad and 25% for Nike’s ‘Don’t Do It’ ad.
When it comes to identifying emotions, inspiration consistently placed as the most common feeling felt intensely by panelists across all of the BLM campaign ads. Pride and warmth typically followed closely.
These levels of inspiration resulted in high brand recall — Nike at 45% and the NFL at 20%.
“We often saw Black Lives Matter listed as the brand being advertised in the recall question,” Scroope said.
An interesting, seldom seen emotion that also scored high for some these ads was sadness,” he said. In the case of McDonald's, NFL Players and P&G 'The Choice' ad, sadness was reported by an average of 11% of panelists compared to our U.S. average of only 1% for that emotion.
Unruly groups "sadness" with positive emotions as opposed to "negative" or "primal" emotions because sadness doesn't necessarily imply a poor reaction to the content, but rather a strong connection between the consumer and the content -- likely to make an imprint on their mind and boost brand recall, he said.
Social cause-oriented marketing always walks a fine line, he said.
In the results from the BLM ads tested, as well as Unruly’s larger study around stereotypes in advertising, it is nearly impossible for any brand to field an ad without producing some percentage of detractors.
This is true when dealing with ads designed to support or address a social cause or message.
For the BLM ads tested, Unruly saw an average of 9.6% of panelists reporting disgust and 9.8% reporting contempt for the ads' messaging compared to 5% and 7%, respectively, for Unruly’s U.S. market benchmarks.
“While these ads did produce higher levels than average, even when we test ads with no social or political bend we still see these responses appear,” he said. “The takeaway here is that while some brands are cautious or anxious about wading into these types of cultural conversations, the downside is still fairly minimal.”
On the flip side, Unruly saw very strong brand key performance indicators across the board for the Black Lives Matter ads. Purchase Intent for all of the tested BLM ads exceeded U.S. benchmarks with an average uplift of 28% and similarly brand favorability also beat the benchmark for all of these ads, with an average uplift of 33%.