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Nielsen Tops of 2012: Advertising
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Nielsen Tops of 2012: Advertising

With strong creative, a bump in spending and innovative brand integrations, 2012 marked another positive year for the advertising industry.

Nielsen’s lists of most-liked ads and product integrations of 2012 include Ancestry.com’s emotional Ellen Harrington spot, Subway’s placements on Community and JCPenney’s hilarious and highly successful campaign featuring Ellen Degeneres. The most-liked ads of the year further demonstrate that audience-appropriate humor, an ownable creative concept and a relatable, emotional appeal, are effective practices that help the audience connect with ads on a personal level. Product placements that made this year’s top 10 seamlessly integrated the specific brands into the storyline of the television programs, and most placements involved longer-term show sponsorships, which suggests that using a storyline to deliver brand messages is effective in traditional creative and in branded integrations as well.

U.S. ad spend for the first three quarters of 2012 was up 2.5 percent across all media types from the same time period in 2011. Major contributors to ad spend for this time period included automotive (company and dealership), fast food, telecom/wireless, pharma, retail, motion picture and auto insurance. The biggest advertisers by spend during the period included Procter & Gamble, AT&T and General Motors.

Top 10 Most Liked New Commercials, 2012 (YTD)

Rank Brand Ad Description Likeability Index
1 Ancestry.com Ellen Harrington (:15) 319
2 Wendy’s My dad Dave Thomas (:30) 269
3 JCPenney No receipt no return (:60) 256
4 Ocean Spray Cran-Cherry George Washington (:15) 256
5 JCPenney Why so many coupons? (:60) 250
6 KFC Hide & Seek (:15) 244
7 JCPenney Excuse me, where are all the shoes? (:30) 238
8 JCPenney What’s with the 99? (:30) 238
9 M&M’s I’m Ms. Brown (:15) 238
10 Ford Ford Mustang driving down the road changing colors (:60) 231
Source: NielsenOnly new ads airing in 2012 YTD (January 1, 2012 to Novermber 30, 2012) were considered. Top ads were identified by filtering on General Recall, Brand Linkage, & Likeability Linkage, then ranked on Net Likeability. The Likeability Index was calculated by taking the Likeability score (% of Viewers who liked the ad “somewhat” or “a lot”) for each top ad and indexing versus the mean score of all new ads during the same time period.

For example, with a Likeability index of 319 the top ranked Ancestry.com ad has proven to be 3.19 times as well liked as the average new ad.

*Super Bowl ads were excluded.

Top 10 Best Recalled Branded Integrations in Scripted Shows, 2012 YTD

Rank Brand Branded Integration Description Program (Network/Air Date)
1 Subway Dean Pelton gives a speech at a ribbon cutting ceremony where a Subway restaurant is being opened in the cafeteria Community (NBC, 3/29)
2 Subway Dean Pelton reveals to Shirley that a vacant space at Greendale Community College was sold to Subway Community (NBC, 3/15)
3 Porsche Alan tells Robin and Bridget that he’d vote with them for a brand new red Porsche, then he is shown driving one. Two and a Half Men (CBS, 1/2)
4 Chevrolet Danny and Steve are shown driving in a silver Chevrolet & passing police men in silver Chevrolet’s Hawaii Five-0 (CBS, 11/12)
5 Tootsie Roll Andre tells Mike and Harry that there are free Tootsie Rolls in the pocket of their suits; Samuel and Harry try to negotiate a deal in Tootsie Rolls. Mike & Molly (CBS, 5/7)
6 Louis Vuitton Finch tells John that Ashley just charged $5,000 worth of Louis Vuitton suitcases Person of Interest (CBS, 4/26)
7 M&M’s David Lee offers Veronica a bowl of M&M’s The Good Wife (CBS,11/25)
8 Charmin Aaron says he would trade $80 million dollars in the bank for a roll of Charmin Revolution (NBC, 9/17)
9 Chevrolet Danny and Steve get out of a parked Chevrolet car, before investigating a crime scene in an open field. Hawaii Five-0 (CBS,10/15)
10 Kit Kat Frankie tells Brick to unload his Halloween sack of candy because she is craving a Kit Kat. She uses her foot to take a Kit Kat from his candy pile. The Middle (ABC, 10/24)
Source: NielsenOnly branded integrations airing in new shows 2012 YTD (January 1, 2012 to Novermber 30, 2012) were considered. Top branded integrations were identified by ranking on Brand Recall (% of viewers who recalled the integration). The Brand Recall Index was calculated by taking the Brand Recall score for each top integration and indexing versus the mean score of all new integrations during the same time period.

For example, with a Brand Recall index of 204 the top ranked Subway integration has proven to be 2.04 times as well recalled as the average new ad.

*branded integrations were limited to those that aired in dramas/sitcoms

Top 10 U.S. Advertisers of 2012 – Product Categories

Rank Product Category January 2012 – September 2012-$$$
1 Automotive $8B
2 Restaurant – Quick Service $3.28B
3 Automotive Dealership $2.84B
4 Telephone Services – Wireless $2.75B
5 Pharmaceuticals $2.42B
6 Motion Pictures $2.32B
7 Department Stores $2.23B
8 Direct Response $1.47B
9 Restaurants $1.32B
10 Insurance – Auto $1.24B
Source: NielsenData from January 2012 – September 2012. Top Product Categories ranked on total ad expenditure across Cable Network TV, Free Standing Insert (Coupon), Local Magazine, Local Newspaper, Local Sunday Supplement, National Magazine, National Newspaper, National Sunday Supplement, Network Radio, Broadcast Network TV, Outdoor, Hispanic Cable TV, Hispanic Network TV, Spot Radio, Spot TV, and Broadcast Syndication TV

Read as: Automotive was the top product category based on ad spend during the first three quarters of 2012 with $8 billion advertising dollars being spent.

Top 10 U.S. Advertisers of 2012 – Parent Company

Rank Parent Company
1 Procter & Gamble Co
2 AT&T Inc
3 General Motors Co
4 Toyota Motor Corp
5 Ford Motor Co
6 Comcast Corp
7 Verizon Communications Inc
8 Fiat SPA
9 LOREAL SA
10 Berkshire Hathaway Inc
Source: NielsenData from January 2012 – September 2012. Top Parent Companies ranked on total ad expenditure across Cable Network TV, Free Standing Insert (Coupon), Local Magazine, Local Newspaper, Local Sunday Supplement, National Magazine, National Newspaper, National Sunday Supplement, Network Radio, Broadcast Network TV, Outdoor, Hispanic Cable TV, Hispanic Network TV, Spot Radio, Spot TV, and Broadcast Syndication TV

Read as: Proctor & Gamble Co. was the top parent company based on ad spend during the first three quarters of 2012 with $1.69 billion advertising dollars being spent.