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We test every UK and US ad that airs in 25 key categories for System1 Ad Ratings. The service is launching to customers later this year: meanwhile here are ten of August’s most interesting new campaigns – and how they scored.

FIVE-STAR STORYTELLING FOR DOLE FRUIT BOWLS (US)

Dole’s ready-to-eat fruit bowls provide a great example of how to make the product the hero of a story, in this 5-Star ad – the highest-scoring US ad this month. We’ve seen cross-generational stories in ads plenty of times, but rarely this compact and well-executed.

FOR GEICO, NOTHING BEATS THE GECKO (US)

Many big-name brands release several ads a month, including Geico, whose creative efforts included tie-ins with cable shows like Animal Planet, family surrealism, and animated fun with their reliable Geico Gecko mascot. Scores ran the gamut of 1-Star to 4-Stars, with a Gecko-starring spot about buffalo wings (not yet on the brand’s YouTube) generating the most positive emotion. When you have a winning brand asset, it often pays to stick to it.

SUBARU’S FOUR-STAR BACK TO SCHOOL AD (US)

Back-to-school season doesn’t attract the advertising attention of the Super Bowl or Christmas, and no surprise: most of the handful of spots you see are functional and deal-oriented. Car brand Subaru are an exception, with their familiar family of dogs capturing the bittersweet emotion of that first drop-off at a new school. It became their latest 4-Star winner in Ad Ratings.

THE CHANGING FACE OF BABY ADS WITH PAMPERS (US/UK)

Pampers claimed the personal care top spot in both the US and UK in August, but the two ads show how the baby ad is changing with the times. The UK commercial, a 3-Star effort, is more traditional, with smiling, jolly babies providing a predictable shot of happiness. The US Pampers ad went one better with 4-Stars, and shows a more realistic approach, with hints of the agony and ecstasy of childbirth. It’s an authentic approach which landed better with its audience.

TROJAN MAN: A FLUENT DEVICE MISFIRE? (US)

Finally, condom brand Trojan launched a new fluent device this month – a curly-haired “god of sex” named Trojan Man, who dispenses love advice (and prophylactics). He appeared in a 30-second intro spot and two 15-second follow-ups. The results were… not great, with all three getting 1-Star. We could see the character working better in other markets, but he might be too racy or flippant (or both!) for the US.

MENTOS EMOJIS RAISE A SMILE (UK)

We wrote about the Mentos emoji ad a couple of weeks ago when it first came out – it’s held its spot as the UK’s best-rated August ad, so here it is again.

3: FABULOUS BEASTS, FLAT VOICEOVER (UK)

Telecoms brand 3 have a history of brilliant, slightly surreal ads – remember the dancing pony? – and their series of fabulous hybrid animals like the Giraff-amingo follows in that tradition. It’s an instantly likeable, iconic creation – so why only a 3-Star ad? We think the voiceover pulls the ad back down to earth a little – less is usually more when it comes to voiceover, and the “Go Roam” message comes across fine without it.

CHROMEBOOK HITS THE PRODUCT AD CEILING (UK)

We often say that 3-Stars is a “ceiling” for more rational, product-centric ads. Google aired a bunch of spots for its Chromebook and Pixelbook range this month, and the scores bore that out. This crisp, well-executed, and pacy ad is about as good as pure product ads get… but it’s still only 3-Stars.

CAN FLUENT DEVICES MAKE CREDIT CHECKS FUN? ASK “DATA SELF DAN” (UK)

Experian became the latest brand to launch a Fluent Device this month with “Data Self Dan”, in a series of comic ads making a serious point. In an age of fear about data exploitation, Experian want to get the point across that brands can use your data to help you, not exploit you. Does Dan manage it? His best ad is this campsite skit, which balances comedy and explanation to get a high 2-Stars. It’s not a classic campaign yet, but in the sober financial services sector it’s a foundation to build on.

CONFUSED.COM FAILS TO INSPIRE (UK)

Finally, one of this month’s big ad launches was the new Confused.com campaign, starring Irish actor Timothy Murphy negotiating a world you can’t trust in search of clarity. With price comparison rivals Comparethemarket and Go Compare locked into long-running Fluent Device campaigns, Confused.com has lacked identity in comparison. This new campaign takes a hard-hitting, anti-consumerist tone, which rarely lands well with viewers: they know an advert when they see one. The result? A poor 1-Star.

Want to know how your own advertising performs? Let us know you're interested in System1 Ad Ratings.

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