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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 as good as they seem?  And - how well is their advertising doing overall?  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 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 - P&GOn 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 at one time fit into the public relations space.   

Still, plenty of traditional creative was used and since we have tested 250,000 ads, we took a peek to see how survey respondents rated  the work of four of the Geniuses at  Walmart, Mint Mobile, Procter & Gamble and Verizon.  We'll also present a "waterfall" chart for each, showing their creative scores over time. 

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

Mintmobile Superbowl 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 built  his marketing chops,  low budgets didn't matter to him as much as building great stories.  As T.L. Stanley  writes: "Reynolds sites 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 to the left, 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 had some challenges  as shown by an ABX ad effectiveness Index of only 115 (100 is "average,") and average scores for brand awareness (98), message (113) and some relevance (110).  But the audience understood the give-away enough to score this ad a high 178, and call-to-action scores were highest for those intending to go to the website or contacting the company. (The following cartouche is simply a quick summary of topline scores).  ABX Ad Scores for Mintmobile Superbowl AdA look at Mint Mobile's overall ad scores for the past year show it is doing fairly well (see chart below) with most ads above  the yellow "Average" line.  However, comparing all Wireless ads for the past year, Mint Mobile scores in the middle of all Online ads and at the bottom quartile TV and Print. It'll be fun to see how Reynolds will kick this into gear over the coming year.Framed Mint Mobile

ADWEEK Brand Genius - Diego Scotti, CMO, Verizon 

Diego - 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.New Verizon adThis brief, not-fancy spot pulled big scores from survey respondents.  The ABX Index is up 41% over norms based on 250,000 tested ads; the Message, Actionand Reputation scores are very strong,  And Gender Equality did well across  Female, Male and Girl characters. Verizon BlogFor the last 180 days, Verizon  has had a reasonably good year in ad effectiveness, but some challenges in Digital and OOH.  If we look at  the whole Wireless category, Verizon scores in the middle for most media types.  With Scotti's leadership, we can expect these scores to just keep going up.Framed Verizon

ADWEEK Brand Genius - Janey Whiteside, EVP, Chief Customer Officer, Walmart 
Janey - 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, 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.” 
Walmart PictureThe ad above features Walmart employees singing "Lean on Me," and did well with an ABX Index of 124, strong Message, Reputation and Action scores and very high ABX Gender Equality Index scores. Only Brand Awareness needed a bit of help.Walmart Lean on MeWalmart has had a strong creative presence over the last 180 days with only a few ads falling beneath the yellow line.  Competitively against all Retailers, Walmart scores are within the top four in Print, TV and OOH, and in the middle in other media types.Walmart framed

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

Marc Pritchard - 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, The Look, focused on the way people see Black men.  He used the Olympics beyond usual sponsorship methods to better the lives of others.  As the Chairman of the Association of National Advertisers, he has been intimately involved with the #SeeHer movement, which uses ABX data to measure how well an ad presents 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.P&G pictureThis 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 the ABX Index itself (118). The spot also pulled notable Gender Equality Index scores, which in turn impacted Reputation and Action.  The only challenge was a low score for Brand Awareness; P&G might want to strengthen its identification in future spots.Proctor and Gamble BlogFor an overview of P&G's advertising,  we present the following chart for only 30 days due to sheer volume.  P&G shows that it is possible to have most of its ads score above 110, and several up to 130 and 140.   Only a handful of ads are below the yellow average line, mainly radio.  Competitively in its various categories, P&G always has one or more brands with top scores across all media types. Overall, this is a remarkable proof of  brand genius. P&G framed

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