Humor was a dominant theme among this year’s batch of Cannes Lion winning ads according to Ad effectiveness tester System1.
The London-based firm evaluated the Cannes Film Lions Grand Prix, Gold, Silver and Bronze winners from the U.S. and UK to see how they resonated with the general public using its Test Your Ad platform.
One conclusion: “Marketers are trying to make people laugh again.”
According to the assessment, over half (52%) of the Lions-winning ads tested were funny (by design), which was up from 42% last year.
The focus on funny came partially at the expense of ads zeroing in on brand purpose (exclusive of the charity/NGO sector). Last year five award-winning ads deployed brand purpose in messaging. This year just one award-winner did so—Apple's “The Greatest,” which focused on its work adapting its devices for customers with disabilities.
The highest-scoring ad among the Liion winners tested was McDonalds’ “Raise Your Arches,” which told a comical office story, and which involved a lot of eyebrow arching to signal it was time for lunch. The slapstick school race in “Action Mode,” was among the highest scorers, along with Marmite’s “Baby Scan” and Uber Eats’ “Cowboy” ad.
But System 1 also notes that though the funnier ads for the most part scored the highest in the assessment of Cannes winners, the average for all the winners tested was slightly lower than the average score for a typical video ad.
According to the company the reason for that could be that the broader consumer world doesn’t always share a “marketer’s edgy sense of humor.”
Still, if audiences get it, funny is the way to go. “More and more brands are realizing that to grow you should entertain for commercial gain, so it’s great to see a return to funny advertising,” said Jon Evans, Chief Customer Officer, System 1. “Humor is a time-honored way of helping to create positive feeling and capture attention.”