The ABX "Top Three Radio Spots" Scoreboard



For 2018, a few new rules will apply to the ABX choices of the Top Three Radio Ads for the Month:

August 2018

For August 2018, 143 English radio spots were “First-Runs” and were tested by ABX Advertising Benchmark Index. Of the 143, scores ranged from an ABX Index = 118 (+18% over norm) for Febreze to a low of ABX= 49 (-51% below norm), for Avion Tequila. An ABX Index of 100 is “average” in effectiveness. Note: the highest Radio spot ever measured by ABX had an Index of 135. Please see the following for more explanation:

#1.Febreze – “Does Your Car Smell Like a #5 With Fries?”

Fabreze Score

This :15 spot uses a strong male voice and no other sound. He paints a vivid picture describing the ways your car may smell and how Febreze can make a difference. The Message at 124 is very strong and clear; Awareness of the Brand at 106 is well above average. Strong Reputation and Action scores drive the overall ABX Index score of 118, and individual CTAs that are especially strong include “Look For” at 160 and “Purchase” at 181. That’s a lot of value for fifteen seconds.
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#2. Taco Bell – “Perfection, Meet Even More Perfecter”

Taco Bell Score

Another 15-second spot with male voice only. This voice had an exceptionally warm quality, not unlike a character on Winnie the Pooh. The brief spot did not punch Taco Bell hard enough with an Awareness score of only 101, but the promotional Message was strong and appreciated as evidenced by high Reputation (142) and Action (125) scores. The strongest CTA was Intent to Purchase at 163, followed by Contact at 141.

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#3. Kettle Chips – “You Can’t Beat Real”

Target Score

This :30 spot was refreshing with real music woven into the background – not just guitars and drums. The narrator had an English accent, which may have caused some problems with clarity as per the “average” Awareness score of 102 and Message score of 108. In addition, the spot received a low Likability score of 77, though that is not factored into the ABX Index since it is not predictive. The only big CTA was Intent to Purchase at 160.

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See Below for the KPI Comparison Chart for August 2018:



July 2018

For July 2018, 83 English radio spots were "First-Runs" and were tested by ABX Advertising Benchmark Index. Of the 121, scores ranged from an ABX Index = 115 (+15% over norm) for Breyer’s to a low of ABX= 46 (-54% below norm), for Cricket Wireless. An ABX Index of 100 is "average" in effectiveness. Note: the highest Radio spot ever measured by ABX had an Index of 135. Please see the following for more explanation:

#1. Breyers – “Breyer’s New 2in1s at Walmart”

Breyer's Score

This :60 Live Read is full of the usual enthusiasm of a good deejay and had no background noise to interfere with the Message (120) which came across very well. The copy used many delicious word pictures to keep the listener tuned in. But the spot would have done even better if the Brand Awareness had been stronger through perhaps one additional mention. The high Reputation (131) indicated that folks felt better about Breyers than before they’d heard the spot, and the high Action score (129) yielded a huge score for “Look for” (183) and “Intent to Purchase” (167).


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#2. Walgreen’s – “Looking for a Convenient Pharmacy, Atlanta?”

Walgreen's Score

This 30-second produced spot is focused on all that Walgreens can do for the listener in an overall image ad. Of note is the high Brand Awareness score at 108; this simple spot achieved that well along with a clear Message (122). It was also considered Relevant and Likeable. The strongest CTAs were an “Intent to Contact” the store or pharmacy (170) followed by intents to look at the Web for more information and to recommend.

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#3. Target – “Target Run and Done”

Target Score

The fact that this ad is in third place illustrates how hard it is to do great radio creative. This Live Read does fine vocally, but the copy includes some product names right at the beginning that are hard to understand and not germaine to the story. In fact, this new Drive-up service from Target is a huge boon to convenience and it seems the opportunity was a bit lost. For example, Brand Awareness was barely Average; the Message at 109 wasn’t fully understood; Relevance was only 95 and “Intent to Purchase” was only 68. However, Target did get a bump on Reputation for those who did understand the value of the service and the “Intent to go to the Web” was 155. So, it did well but could have done better.

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June 2018

For June 2018, 83 English radio spots were “First-Runs” and were tested by ABX Advertising Benchmark Index. Of the 83, scores ranged from an ABX Index = 115 (+15% over norm) for Wendy’s to a low of ABX= 60 (-40% below norm), for Remy Martin. An ABX Index of 100 is “average” in effectiveness. Note: the highest Radio spot ever measured by ABX had an Index of 135. Please see the following for more explanation:

#1. Wendy’s – “The $1.00 Buffalo Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Wendy's Score

This :30 spot scored surprisingly well in Message at 116 given the loud sound effects behind the narrator.  However, his enthusiasm coupled with a very strong promotional message (here’s a new sandwich that only costs $1.00) drove high Reputation and Action scores, with an Intent to Purchase (not shown above) of 198.  The spot does have some opportunity in both Awareness (brand linkage) at 106 and Likeability at 105.  Likely, the noise was the culprit on both.

Wendy’s had a second spot that would have placed #2 on this list, but as we only feature one ad per company, we’ll move on to the next in line.


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#2. Walgreen’s – “It’s officially summer time”

Walgreen's Score

This :15 spot invites listeners to go to Walgreens for “sun protection, bugs spray, healthy snacks and trusted summer essentials they need at a great value.” Its an average-sounding spot with loud sound track and male voice-over, and the scores for various KPIs are varied. At an ABX Index of 108, it is one of the best this month. Brand-linkage (Awareness) is a bit over average at 107, and Message is clear and strong at 116. But it wasn’t well-liked (89), the Reputation score was below average and the CTA scores beneath Action were not as strong as one would hope. Maybe you can tell us why this relatively innocuous spot had so many vulnerabilities! Email us at angie@adbenchmark.com.

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#3. Total Wireless – “At Total Wireless stores it's easy to find a plan that fits the needs of everyone in your family.”

Total Wireless Score

Another “mixed score” spot, this :60 live read for Total Wireless had some real highs and lows. The female narrator was terrific, full of enthusiasm and very clear speech. The spot had no music track, which helped the messaging. However, a deeper look at the Message score shows it is mostly for “Delivery” and “Clear,” but is actually lower on “Understood.” This spot was full of various prices and programs, and the data (a high ‘dislike score’) suggests listeners may have tuned out after a while. The high Reputation reflects the validity of the offers, though Action numbers mainly concentrated on Intent to Contact the store, or Intent to go to the Web for more information.

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May 2018

For May 2018, 81 English radio spots were “First-Runs” and were tested by ABX Advertising Benchmark Index. Of the 81, scores ranged from an ABX Index = 117 (+17% over norm) for Walgreen’s to a low of ABX= 70 (-30% below norm), for Boost Mobile. An ABX Index of 100 is “average” in effectiveness. Note: the highest Radio spot ever measured by ABX had an Index of 135. Please see the following for more explanation:

#1. Walgreen’s – “Since 2015 Walgreens shoppers like to embrace over $100 million for children in poverty as part of Red Nose Day?”

Walgreen's Score

Last month, Walgreen’s had a longer version of this spot with a phenomenal score of 130, putting it in the Top 99% of all radio tested by ABX. This month, the campaign continues with the results – that since 2015, Walgreen’s shoppers had contributed over $100 million to children in poverty as part of Red Nose Day. The ABX Index of 117 is more modest, but it’s still top for the month. Within the various Action scores is the option to Contact the Company. That option has a score of 200%, which is something we rarely see.


Walgreen’s had a second spot on the same topic that would have placed #2 on this list, but as we only feature one ad per company, we’ll move on to the next in line.



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#2. CVS – “This week at CVS Pharmacy earn $100 extra bucks for real life”

T-Mobile Score

Like Walgreen's, CVS has several spots this month that have scored well, and this one was highest of all. It is a fairly typical voice-plus-rhythm-track that speaks of all the reasons you should shop a store for beauty brands. The voice is young, a little grating, but probably appeals to Millennials. While she didn’t punch "CVS" enough to get more than an average Brand Awareness score of 101, the $100 extra bucks message drove Reputation and Action to good levels. The strongest Action score beneath the 124 was for "Intent to Look For" at a 170 and an Intent to Contact the Store at 141.

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#3. Arm & Hammer – “Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin plus fresh scent detergent is now available in a new white bottle…”

Arm & Hammer Score

This third spot did well for clarity of Message at 120, and certainly in Reputation at 132 and Relevance at 116. It even did okay for Awareness at 107. But the spot was not well-liked at 104, nor did it generate much Action beyond an Intent to Recommend at 114 and Purchase at 113. Perhaps more interesting, no one wanted to Talk About it at a score of 78. The spot is very commercial, focusing on its new bottle, and has one “testimonial” that sounds a bit like a script. Having said that, at an ABX Index score of 111, it’s +21 points above the average score for radio spots, which is 90. So, there’s plenty for Arm & Hammer to work with to make it even better.

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April 2018

For April 2018, 168 English radio spots were tested by ABX Advertising Benchmark Index. Of the 168, scores ranged from an ABX Index = 130 (+30% over norm) for Walgreen’s to a low of ABX= 56 (-44% below norm), for 1800 Tequila. An ABX Index of 100 is “average” in effectiveness. Note: the highest Radio spot ever measured by ABX had an Index of 135. Please see the following for more explanation:

#1. Walgreen’s – “Did you know there are millions of children living in poverty today?”

Walgreen's Score

At an ABX Index score of 130, this ad is in the Top 99% of all ABX-measured radio spots, so our congratulations to Walgreen’s. The voice over describes the problem of children living in poverty today and how listeners can help by participating in “Red Nose Day.” The panel scores (above) really show how audiences love companies that get involved with societal issues, as evidenced here by the sky-high Reputation score of 223. The Message at 131 was extremely clear, and Action at 128 was comprised of plans to “Talk about it” (180) and Purchase (149).

Please Note: Walgreens had another two spots that would have fit in the Top Three, but we’ve purposed to only show one ad from each company in Top Three listings.

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#2. T-Mobile – “Military active members, family and veterans get 50% off forever.” 

T-Mobile Score

Here’s another issues-related spot that pushed Reputation very high at 182. T-Mobile is offering an amazing packing of 50% off permanently for Military families – active or veteran. The segment is very simple with a somewhat frenetic live read that has a clear Message at 127, though Brand Awareness at 106 could be higher. While the spot scored well, there were some who felt it was not Relevant nor Likeable. But the segment drew a strong Action score of 120, comprised mainly of people who intend to “Talk About it” at 191 or “Recommend it” at 164. It did not pull Intents to Purchase, Contact the Company or Research the Web.

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#3. Mr. Clean – “Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser …”

Mr Clean Score

Of all this month’s spots, this is the most creative and fun. Mr. Clean doesn’t just remove tough dirt from just about anything … it also removes words from this spot. Hysterical. The narrator’s words are erased with squeaks and squishes, so you end up with a clear enough Message (123), but in staccato. The spot was Well-Liked and Relevant, and every Action option was positive, including Intent to Purchase at 198 and Intent to Look for at 179. Reputation wasn’t as high as the other social-issue spots, but it was still +37% over norm as a commercial message.

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March2018

For March 2018, 126 English radio spots were “First-Runs” and were tested by ABX Advertising Benchmark Index.  Of the 126, scores ranged from an ABX Index = 122 (+22% over norm) for Domino’s to  a low of ABX= 52 (-48% below norm), for Cricket Wireless. An ABX Index of 100 is “average” in effectiveness.  Note: the highest Radio spot ever measured by ABX had an Index of 135. Please see the following for more explanation:

#1. Domino’s – “Are you Hungry for Pizza?”

Domino's Score

This ‘live read’ plays exceptionally well due to the humor in the copy and the DJ’s heavy ‘sell.’ Domino’s offers two for one pizza during a specific time period, but “only” for pick-up. It would be interesting to see how customers respond to the pick-up idea since pizza is so strongly identified with delivery. The spot scores very well at 122 (remember, the highest-ever radio spot as measured by ABX is 135). Strong Message, clear Awareness (brand linkage), a very high Reputation at 156 and Action breaks into some nice CTA chunks like Intent to Purchase at 181. A couple other measures not readily seen include Relevance at 133 and Likeability at 116.

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#2. MetroPCS – “Best Free Phone Event Ever.” 

MetroPCS Score

This is an exceptionally clear :60 with DJ live read that really works. Normally, a spot like this would have blaring rock music behind it. But this one does not. Scores for Message Delivery and Presentation are 115-116, though there is still some challenge with Understanding at only 104, showing the complexity of phone events. Reputation scored high at 136, and the highest CTA’s are Intent to Contact MetroPCS at 173 and Look for it on the Web at 156. Purchase was only a 68, but that’s about average for mobile providers. It’s a tough category.

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#3. Shedd’s Spread – “Need to bake in a hurry, New Country Crock Buttery Sticks with Sunflower Oil are rich and creamy …”

I love fully-produced spots with relevant music and sound effects, great voice-overs and a bit of a story line. This one almost has a “Disney” feel to it with musical flourishes and animated child and mom voices. Having said that, this type of spot may need to be heard a couple of times before you fully understand it. The 107 Awareness message is okay, but could be higher for brand-linkage. The 110 Message should be higher given production values, but perhaps there’s a little too much going on. Fortunately, listeners responded well with a high Reputation score of 129; a decent Relevance score of 110 and a Likeability score of 111. For CTAs, ALL were favorable, but the highest was Contact the Company to learn more at 156.

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February 2018

For February 2018, 92 English radio spots were “First-Runs” and were tested by ABX Advertising Benchmark Index.  Of the 92, scores ranged from an ABX Index = 121 (+21% over norm) for Aveeno to a low of ABX= 59 (-41% below norm), for Boost Mobile. An ABX Index of 100 is “average” in effectiveness. Note: the highest Radio spot ever measured by ABX had an Index of 135. Please see the following for more explanation:

#1. Aveeno – “This cold weather in Boston really dries out my skin”

Aveeno Score

The strength of this :30 spot is its clarity, which we see in the Message score of 131 and Reputation at 150. The female narrators have smooth voices and enthusiasm about the unusual ingredients in the skin cream (oatmeal). Listeners can almost *feel* the skin protection in the cold weather. Of note is also the Awareness score of 108 which is higher than normally seen. CTAs of Intent to Purchase at 126 and Look For at 144 are also strong.  

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#2. Taco Bell – “Taco Bell's new Nacho Fries are very real and very delicious.”

Taco Bell Score

Here’s another :30 Live Read with no underlying sound that comes across with clear Awareness of the brand (108) and Message (111). While these scores aren’t overwhelmingly high, the spot still managed an Action score of 132, with big CTAs of Look For (168) and Purchase Intent (185). It is worth noting that this spot indexed much higher against only Radio ads at 125 instead of at 114 against all ads in the ABX database. The trend toward quiet spots with only V/O continues to produce strong results even if creative is toned down.

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#3. Home Depot – “Right now The Home Depot has up to 35% off Appliance Special Buys including …”

The male DJ talks over the Home Depot music track and manages to communicate clearly (Message = 117) despite the underlying noise. The :30 spot promotes Home Depot’s 35% off Appliance Special Buys and more. Radio is always hard to do well and has a lower average ABX Index than other mediums at 90 instead of 100. So, the ABX Index score of 111 is very good. The Message drove Reputation and Action, though the spot wasn’t particularly liked at 95. The strongest call-to-action was Intent to go to the Web for more information. 

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January 2018

For January 2018, 67 English radio spots were “First-Runs” and were tested by ABX Advertising Benchmark Index.  Of the 67, scores ranged from an ABX Index = 124 (+24% over norm) for Febreze to a low of ABX= 62 (-38% below norm), also for Febreze. An ABX Index of 100 is “average” in effectiveness.  Note: the highest Radio spot ever measured by ABX had an Index of 135. Please see the following for more explanation:

#1. Febreze Is that your car that smells like a No. 5 with Fries?”

Applebee's Score

Back-to-back :15s of the same ad, this hard-hitting spot talks about the embarrassment of having a smelly car, and how Febreze can take care of the problem. The double-play likely pumped-up the Message score to 125 since the second rendition may have answered questions from the first. Reputation and Action scores were also high, with the Intent to Purchase CTA at a very high 220. 

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#2. Old Navy – “You’ve reached the high fashion online.” 

Sam's Club Score

Rather frenetic :30 spot with only a phone ringing and then two female voices discussing how to become “new” for the New Year.  Sales prices of 50% off all activewear and very low priced kids clothing drove Reputation to 169, showing listeners were believing the Message (122).  Action was high at 138, but especially plans to Go to the Web to learn more at 202, Purchase Intent at 159 and Recommend also at 159.

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#3. Downy – “At our house we always use Downy”

Very convincing DJ live read with no underlying music. The DJ had experimented with using, and not using, the product and saw a major difference in how his clothes fit. The Awareness (Brand Linkage) score is a little lower than expected at 105, and Likeability is only 93, but the Message got through loud and clear. Strong Reputation and Action scores were also strong, as was the Intent to Purchase score at 176.

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The ABX "Top Five Radio Spots" Scoreboard

December 2017

The following five radio spots ranked highest in overall creative effectiveness in December 2016 as tested by ABX Advertising Benchmark Index.  A total of 269 spots were tested with ABX scores ranging from a very strong 133 for Subway to a low of 59 for Cricket Wireless. (An ABX Index of 100 is “average” in effectiveness).

Some new views of all tested data are now available at the following links:

#1. Applebee’s “Call a Friend or Family Member and Run to Applebee’s”

Applebee's Score

Applebee’s produced an unusually clear, compelling ad with a strong female voice over that made the spot work. They also refrained from background noise and music, enabling the Message (+34% over norm) to come over loud and clear. The high Reputation and Action scores manifested in high scores in every CTA including +104% above norm in intent to “Talk” about the deal, and +81% in “Purchase” intent.

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#2. Sam's Club– “Your Pizza Night Just Got Easier …”

Sam's Club Score

This is another good ad from Sam’s Club which uses a clear-speaking male voiceover to best advantage with copy that makes the listener hungry. There is some background music, but it doesn’t overwhelm the spot. However, Awareness could be a little higher; Sam’s Club should be punched with a bit more impact. Still, the Message got across (+27% over norm), Reputation was great (+30%) and so was Action (+30%). Of Action, the highest-scoring CTAs were in the +50s range for Talk and Recommend. One surprising finding was the Likeability score was just Average, which I would have ranked as higher.

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#3. Burger King – “3 Pancakes at $.89”

Okay, I just have to say it: I don’t ‘get’ this one and why it performed so well. The huge Message score (+34% over norm) was undoubtedly because the singular message was repeated at least six times in the 30-s duration. Clearly, the audience loved the message and thought highly of Burger King to offer such an ‘unbelievable’ deal. In fact, the Intent to Purchase score (a subset of Action) scored +110% above the norm! However, a few respondents were irritated at the repetition and gave the spot Likeability scores in the +10% range.

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#4. IHOP – “All You Can Eat Pancakes are Back at IHOP”

Ad sounds live-read with a DJ who does well making the offer sound delicious and in the moment. Of note here is the very high Reputation score (+43% over norm), which shows listeners really appreciated the offer. The biggest CTA responses were intentions to Talk about the offer and Recommend it (both around +64%), but purchase was lower at +29%. Some of the background noise may have affected the clarity of brand linkage (Awareness), which was only average.

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#5. Home Depot – Holiday savings on appliance special buys and 12 months financing …”

This very clearly-read ad by a woman with a well-modulated voice should have scored higher, in this writer’s opinion, though at an ABX Index of 112, it is well above average. There is some lack of clarity in Awareness, and Message should have been higher given the clarity of the narrative. In addition, the Dislike score was a -9% below norm. But, there is intent to look for the product at +47% above norm, and purchase it at +24%.



November 2017

For November 2017, only 86 English radio spots were “First-Runs” and were tested by ABX Advertising Benchmark Index.  Of the 86, scores ranged from an ABX Index = 129 (+29% over norm) for Wendy’s to to a low of ABX=79 (-21% below norm) for Taco Bell. An ABX Index of 100 is “average” in effectiveness. Note: the highest Radio spot ever measured by ABX had an Index of 135. Please see the following for more explanation:


Please see the following for more explanation:

#1. Wendy’s – “The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption”

V/O only with male narrator, this :30 focuses on Wendy’s support of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and draws customers to come to Wendy’s to join in. The Message was loud and clear and drove the enormous +123% over norm score for Reputation and +21% in Likeability. For Action, Intent to Talk About it was the biggest result at +91%, but Purchase was also high at +63%. Here is strong evidence that “PR” messaging can indeed drive sales.

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#2. Subway – “try a new six-inch Sub every day for only $3.50”

Subway scores Purchase Intent in a huge way with a score of 219 (119% over norm) with this rather frenetic and noisy spot. The high-value Message is presented with enthusiasm and drives both Reputation at +31% over norm and Action at +50%. Besides Purchase, Subway receives high scores in Look For at +30%; Recommend at 41% and Talk About at +36%.

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#3. Taco Bell – “Introducing Taco Bell's $5 Cravings Deal”

Similar to Subway’s spot above, this spot has heavy background music that makes it harder to hear, but also received high Likeability scores at +36% over norm. The Message does well enough to drive a +46% Reputation score and +52% in Action. Amazingly, Action included Intents to Purchase at +155%, Recommend at +99% and Talk About at +70% over norm. Simple formula but great offer makes this spot work.

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#4. Target“It’s order pick-up time at Target”

Somewhat frenetic, high-pitched female narrator says: “You're cozy up on the couch with a cup of hot coco and checking things off your ever-growing wish list … Order online and pick up in store.” The underlying music soundtrack is big and exciting, almost like a movie soundtrack. The ease of ordering online makes sense with a score of 121 for Messaging, 110 for Awareness of the brand, and a strong 149 in Reputation. Clearly, Target is reaching prospective customers at their sweet spot with a huge 223 in Intent to go to the Web to learn more.

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#5. Home Depot – Holiday savings on appliance special buys and 12 months financing …”

Another spot with only male voice-over, this carries a straight-forward Message at +23% over norm for its clarity. High Reputation also results from Message and good offers. For Action, this spot yields an unusually high Intent to Contact the store at +102% over norm and researching more by Web at +61%, which is ideal for appliances.



October 2017

For October 2017, 147 English radio spots were “First-Runs” and were tested by ABX Advertising Benchmark Index.  Of the 147, scores ranged from an ABX Index = 121 (+21% over norm) for Discover to a low of ABX=62 (-38% below norm) for Macy’s. An ABX Index of 100 is “average” in effectiveness. Note: the highest Radio spot ever measured by ABX had an Index of 135. Please see the following for more explanation:


Please see the following for more explanation:

#1. Discover Card – “Social Security Card/New Account Alerts”

Very believable :30 spot with clear Message (+31% over norm) about how Discover can help you protect your identity amidst so many data thefts recently. The calm male voice and no underlying sound track led to a high Reputation score (+41%) and intended Action including Go to Web (+100% over norm), Contact Company (+75%) and Talk About it (+31%).

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#2. Kohl’s – “Take an extra 20% off with Promo code FRIEND'S 20”

Another male V/O without underlying sound. This :15 is straightforward about the latest sale and is clearly understood at +31% over norm for Message. The Kohl’s spot also generated a very high Reputation score with good Action sub-scores including Intents to Recommend (+41%) and Go to the Web (+33%), but did not score well in Intent to Purchase (-18% under norm).

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#3. Taco Bell – “Steal a Base, Steal a Free Doritos Locos Taco”

Another quiet spot with just a male voice-over. This promotes Taco Bell’s baseball promotion and is well received with very high Reputation and Action scores including Intent to Recommend at +67% over norm; Intent to Purchase at +64% and Intent to Look For at +50%.

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#4. JCPenney – “Get more savings on everything you love, get an additional 50% off clearance prices”

A calm, easy-to-listen-to :30 spot with a soft male voice and no underlying sound.  He explains why spending time with family in the car can be better with Glade Plug-in fragrances.  Awareness is barely average, possibly because Glade was only named once at the beginning and twice at the very end.  But listeners got the Message (+22% over norm) and both Reputation and Action scored very well.  Highest-scoring CTAs were Intents to Recommend (+74%), Purchase (+56%) and Contact the company (+47%). Simple, calm can work.

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#5. Subway – The Steak Club, Part of the new Subway Steak lover's collection…”

This :60 is comprised of two :30 back-to-back spots. The first one is pretty good with strong background music but a clear narrator who scores decently for Message. The second one is highly irritating with too much noise and a narrator who speaks so fast it is difficult to understand. Having said that, the listeners scores the segment high for Reputation and Action even though the “See Again” score was low at 102. Intent to Purchase is +102% higher than norm, so clearly the offer matters more than creative in spots such as these.



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