Ad Pulse: How Apple's Cookie Monster ad became an online hit

Unruly has analysed the most shared ad of March, Apple's "timer" video starring the Cookie Monster, to reveal wisdom for marketers.

Apple’s "timer", starring the Cookie Monster, has been shared almost half a million times, making it the most shared ad launched last month.

The loveable ad achieved a very high share rate of 4.5 per cent and has proved so popular that even the recently-released outtakes video attracted over 25,000 shares.

In Ad Pulse, a monthly column compiled by video ad tech company Unruly, we look at the ad in more detail to see why "timer" was such a big success online.

Why did consumers share it and which audiences did it appeal most to? Were viewers impressed by Siri’s hands-free feature and ability to understand the Cookie Monster’s voice, increasing purchase consideration? Or were they more interested in the cookies?

Emotional responses

Unsurprisingly for an ad starring a much-loved childhood character, happiness, hilarity, warmth and nostalgia were the top emotions driving shareability. 

However, psychological responses varied considerably between different audiences. For example, 18- to 24-year-old females were far more likely than other audiences to find the ad funny, while older females were more likely to feel warm and nostalgic while watching the video.

Meanwhile, male viewers tended to experience cognitive responses (surprise and knowledge) alongside the key emotions of happiness and hilarity. This combination of knowledge and emotion appeared to work particularly well for the brand, as male viewers also had higher purchase intent and were more likely to share the video.

Social motivations

As you can see from the chart above, the most common reason respondents gave for sharing the video with their friends online was social utility (to recommend iPhone/Siri), showing that the video’s product message came through successfully.

Another common motivation to share was to find out people’s opinions on the video, no doubt driven by people wanting to know if their friends found it equally funny and warming.

Zeitgeist was also far higher than for the average ad, driven by the topicality of the new product features. In contrast with emotional responses, social motivations were most prevalent among male viewers.

Males aged 25-44 were especially likely to share the ad because of a shared passion (connecting over a common interest in technology) and it also scored highly for Kudos: Coolhunter (wanting to be first to show their friends). Kudos: Authority (showing off their tech knowledge) was also a key driver of sharing for males aged 35-54, reflecting the fact that they felt informed when they watched the video. 

Brand metrics

Brand recall was very strong at 89 per cent (among women it was even higher at 93 per cent), with Apple the most common response when asked what product or brand the video was promoting.

However, many viewers also remembered product details and features, such as "Siri", "iPhone 6s" and "hands-free". The only group with poor recall was males aged 18-24 (67 per cent), with 6 per cent of them remembering "cookies" rather than any of the brand or product names.

On average, 60 per cent of viewers stated they would want to watch the video again, while more than half (54 per cent) said they would talk about it with their friends and colleagues. Altogether, 48 per cent said they would be likely to share the ad, which was reflected in the high share rate.

The ad particularly resonated with males aged 18-34, who scored the highest for all three follow-up actions.

However, the ad resonated less well with females 18-24 and males aged 55 and over, both of whom had low intent to watch the video again or share it. These two demographics also reported the lowest intent to find out more and buy the product. 

On average, 49 per cent of viewers intended to find out more and 52 per cent (chart below) would consider purchasing the product. Both metrics rose to nearly 70 per cent among males aged 18-44.

Where would viewers share the ad?

Facebook was the platform of choice for 60 per cent of respondents, followed by email (21 per cent) and Twitter (16 per cent).

Males and females aged 35-44 were the biggest sharers on Facebook, while males aged 25-34 were the people most likely to share on Twitter and WhatsApp. 

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