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A Deep Dive into Adweek's Brand Geniuses

Posted by Angela Jeffrey on Oct 9, 2020 12:19:16 PM

The recent AdWeek Announcement of a celebrity Brand Visionary and 12 Brand Geniuses begged the question: are their ads reflecting higher Reputation scores as a result of their corporate outreach efforts?   We've borrowed from the stories of AdWeek's T.L. Stanley, Patrick Kulp, Lisa Lacy and Diana Pearl, who interviewed these marketing heroes.  Since ABX has tested more than 250,000 ads across all media, we decided to take a closer look.  Join us! 

How Four Adweek Brand Geniuses Lead Their Marketing

Ryan Reynolds on cover of AdweekOn September 14th, Adweek announced that "Diversity, Inclusion and Community Are Among the Touchstones of Adweek’s 2020 Brand Genius Honorees."  The article is worth the read as many of the methods now being used by marketing used to fit into the PR space.   

Still, plenty of traditional creative was used and since ABX has tested 250,000 ads, we looked to see how survey respondents rated  the work of four of the Geniuses at Walmart, Mint Mobile, Procter & Gamble and Verizon.  You'll also see a "waterfall" chart for each, showing how their creative ranks competitively. 

ADWEEK Brand Visionary - Ryan Reynolds, Actor-Producer, Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile Super Bowl letter from Ryan ReynoldsLast November, Adweek reported that Brand Visionary Ryan Reynolds bought into the  low-cost wireless carrier, Mint Mobile, to add to his other company,  Aviation Gin.  As he grew as a marketer, low budgets weren't as much of a problem as building great stories.  As T.L. Stanley  writes: "Reynolds cites the importance of "diet storytelling," meaning you have to "reel people in fast." He further said, "We found that acknowledging and playing with the cultural landscape is a great way to do that." 

Acknowledging the cultural landscape was the strategy behind Mint Mobile's approach to Super Bowl this year.  Rather than spending big bucks on an ad, Reynolds wrote the simple letter above, which offered 3 months of Mint Mobile service free for sign-ups after the Mint Mobile kick-off at Super Bowl.  Essentially, he gave $5 million away in free cell service, and later gave unlimited service to all subscribers at the start of Covid-19.  

Did it work?  The Super Bowl ad/letter itself was unexceptional with an ABX ad effectiveness Index of 115 (which is average for TV ads) and similar for brand awareness (98)and message (113).  But the audience rewarded  the give-away with a high Reputation score of 178,  and Call-to-Action scores were highest for those intending to go to the website or contact the company. (The following cartouche is a quick summary of topline scores).  ABX Ad Scores for Mint Mobile Super Bowl AdA look at Mint Mobile's ABX Reputation ad scores against its competition for the past year shows it is doing well in this area (see chart below), with scores averaging 155, or 55% over Average.  However, competitors are also doing well in this area.  It'll be fun to see how Reynolds will further use the cultural landscape to increase Mint Mobile's Reputation this year. Chart showing Reputation scores for Mint Mobile and Competitors

ADWEEK Brand Genius - Diego Scotti, CMO, Verizon 

Picture of Diego Scotti of Verizon

According to Patrick Kulp, who wrote about Scotti for AdWeek, Verizon was the first brand to advertise at the start of the pandemic, calming people down.  His mission has been to humanize Verizon, and he has certainly done that.

“A couple years ago, we set out a new purpose for the brand, which is to create a network that moves the world forward,” says Scotti. “And I’ll tell you, I never thought that purpose was going to be so meaningful and useful for us in the context of everything that has happened in the last year," he said to Kulp. 

Scotti has led Verizon's relief efforts since the pandemic by committing $65 million in a variety of programs.  The following simple :14 spot shares just a few of those programs.Verizon ad where employees are singing "Lean on Me"This brief, not-fancy spot pulled big scores from survey respondents.  The ABX Index is 41% over norms based on more than 250,000 tested ads; the Message, Action and Reputation scores are also very strong,  And Gender Equality did well across  Female, Male and Girl characters. ABX Ad score chart for Verizon TV spotFor the last year, Verizon  has done well in ad effectiveness across most media types. Looking at Verizon against competitors for Reputation only, we see it is near the top of the competitive landscape.   With Scotti's leadership, we can expect these scores to just keep going up.Chart showing Verizon and competitors' Reputation ScoresADWEEK Brand Genius - Janey Whiteside, EVP, Chief Customer Officer, Walmart 
Janey Whiteside of WalmartWhiteside and team reacted immediately to customer needs during the pandemic with services like two-hour Express Delivery and the Walmart+ membership program. She also created digital payment, pumped up outside delivery and created a virtual camp for kids.  As Lisa Lacy of Adweek wrote, Walmart stayed with its "existing approach of telling emotionally resonant stories and underscoring convenience, which feels right on point—if not prescient." Whiteside further told Lacy, “We’re going to continue to evolve how you engage with Walmart,” says Whiteside. “We’re going to continue to evolve how we tell our story through our customers and through our associates in the aim of creating those emotional connections that go beyond just buying stuff.” (Click picture)Walmart TV spots where employees are singing "Lean on Me"The ad above features Walmart employees singing "Lean on Me, and shows employees helping others.  It scored well with an ABX Index of 124, strong Message, Reputation and Action scores and very high ABX Gender Equality Index™ scores. Walmart has a strong Reputation over the last year and is #12 against measured Retailers with an average score of 184, or 84% above average.  Many of the companies ahead of Walmart are also doing community outreach programs, so it is more difficult to stand out.Walmart and competitors Reputation score chart

ADWEEK Brand Visionary - Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer, P&G 

Marc Pritchard of P&GIn Adweek's interview with Marc Pritchard, Diana Pearl reports that P&G, the largest advertiser in the world, believes it “has a responsibility to ensure that our advertising is eliminating bias and promoting equality,” according to Pritchard. “So we decided we were going to use our voice and advertising as a force for good and do it in a way that also delivers a force for growth," Pritchard said.

Some of these efforts included an Emmy-winning short film on how Black parents try to explain race to their kids; and another one focused on the way people see Black men.  Pritchard used the Olympics beyond usual sponsorship methods to do programs that better the lives of others.  As the Chairman of the Association of National Advertisers, Pritchard has been intimately involved with the #SeeHer movement, which uses ABX data to measure how ads present male and female actors.  These efforts don't begin to describe all the ways Pritchard is casting P&G as a "force for good."

The spot below shows one of the latest ways P&G is furthering the cause of Gender Equality. which has morphed forward to a new tagline, #WeSeeEqual, which debuted in June 2020. (Click photo to view).P&G TV Spot on Gender EqualityThis beautiful spot shows how women can increase their status during an economic turndown by stepping forward.  As you'd expect, the highest scores are for Reputation (195), Action (125) and overall (118). The spot also pulled notable Gender Equality Index scores, which in turn impacted Reputation and Action.  The only challenge was Brand Awareness; P&G might want to strengthen its identification in future spots.P&G scores for women-centric TV adFor a competitive overview of how P&G is doing in Reputation, see the chart below for the past 90 days.  P&G Reputation scores are well above average, but compared to competitors here, we see it is right in the middle at 164.  But all competitors' Reputation scores are good and within less than a 10-point range.P&G NEWHow can you ensure your creative is great across all media?   Perhaps we can help.  If you've got questions or comments, fill out this Contact Form and we'll get right back to you!


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