Adwatch of the Year: The public's favourite ads of 2018

Which spot did the public like the most and which could they remember? Welcome to our Adwatch of the Year.

Adwatch of the Year: The public's favourite ads of 2018

There is no doubt about 2018’s top performer in Adwatch of the Year, the industry’s most reliable monitor of the best-recalled and best-liked TV advertising.

Our annual league charts the 20 best-recalled TV brands across the year, the 10 most memorable individual ads and the 10 best-liked commercials researched by Adwatch in 2018.

The top two brands in the best-recalled rankings, DFS and Oak Furnitureland, remain the same as last year – marking DFS’s third consecutive appearance in the number one slot. But it is Aldi that is the star of this year’s show.

Top 20 brands with highest recall

This table scores a brand’s total number of top 10 mentions scored in Adwatch's weekly research (column five), ranked by a value-added point score (column six). Every number one Adwatch position during the year scored 10 points, a number two position scored nine etc – down to a score of one point for a number 10 mention. Data supplied by Ebiquity.

TV adpsend is from November 2017 to October 2018. Total adspend includes: press, TV, radio, outdoor, direct marketing and cinema for the same period.

Having fallen to sixth place last year, Aldi is back in the number three slot, showing that – on a slightly reduced overall ad budget – its advertising achieved impressive, and consistent, cut-through. 

In addition, the supermarket chain’s 2017 Christmas campaign, the second featuring Kevin the carrot, achieved the year’s highest single recall figure when it hit Adwatch in January 2018.

Aldi wasn’t the only brand to do well. In its Adwatch of the Year debut, People’s Postcode Lottery has stormed straight into sixth place in the main table, while Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s work for Currys PC World – on a budget smaller than last year’s – has propelled the store from number 16 to number four. Other successful brands include Asda, Amazon, Nationwide, EE and Vodafone, while Argos and Tesco will be disappointed by their appearances at number 15 and 17 respectively.

Kantar TNS conducts weekly Adwatch research for Campaign to identify the recall levels of all significant new ads and, once a month, it assesses the likeability of the most talked-about ads. This year’s best-liked commercial was – by some margin – MullenLowe’s emotive work for the NHS, scoring an impressive 57% rating. 

We asked Morag Blazey, managing principle, global intel, at Ebiquity to comment on the likeability findings. Ebiquity is the marketing and media consultancy that selects the commercials we research each week and also provides the budget figures in Adwatch of the Year’s main table. 

Blazey said: "Good causes and acts of kindness dominate table three, with – Lidl’s football stars aside – only one celebrity (Eva Green for Jaguar) making an appearance. That heart-warming fact says something quite interesting. When the news really is all doom and gloom, and TV drama is often edgy and uncomfortable viewing, with even soaps full of harrowing story lines, maybe we like our ads to be comforting and optimistic."

Top 10 best recall in any single week

The table charts Adwatch’s highest-scoring individual commercials during 2018. Data supplied by Ebiquity.

"Comforting and optimistic" certainly describes McCann Manchester’s seasonal success for Aldi with Kevin the Carrot, but the brand’s marketing triumph extends far beyond the Christmas TV screens. In the past five years, according to Kantar data, Aldi’s share of supermarket customer spend has more than doubled, from 3.6% to 7.6%.

The key to commercial success, according to marketing director Adam Zavalis, is: "Really cut-through marketing campaigns, campaigns with both emotional appeal and long-term thinking. At a time when adspends are falling, that’s vital for any brand which wants to avoid short-termism."

In 2018, Aldi increased its focus on corporate responsibility and community initiatives, while its Premium ranges and "Swap and Save" campaigns have broadened its appeal among the key demographics of ABC1s and families with children under 10. 

Aldi shoppers, Zavalis explained, are "savvy shoppers", adding: "Even in these uncertain times, they can be certain of quality products that they are proud to put on their tables."

McCann’s work throughout the year has focused on quality, range and value, continuing the "like brands" theme but introducing new-format 10-second ads focusing on weekly Specialbuys.

The "like brands" work extended into a new direction, with a completely "signed" commercial for fish fingers featuring Maisie Sly from Oscar-winning short film The Silent Child, and Aldi continued its ongoing "support Britain" initiative with ads themed around the Winter Olympics to promote its partnership with Team GB. 

Top best-liked commercials

This table shows the best-liked TV commercials researched for Adwatch over the past 12 months.

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