RSL showed 300 adults, aged between 18- and 60-years-old, pictures of ten posters, with brands removed, and asked which they recognised and which they liked.

Benetton emerges as a clear winner in the poll. Fifty-four per cent of adults said they had seen this poster before, rising to more than three-quarters of 18- to 24-year-olds, the campaign’s main target market.

Forty-seven per cent of the interviewees had noticed Lee Jeans’ “Stiletto” poster, only slightly fewer – four out of ten – recognised Kit Kat, the Teletubbies and The Times. Virgin Direct Pension and PEPs ads, Superkings and The Independent tie for sixth place, being remembered by just over a third. L’Oréal and Cable & Wireless were recognised by about a quarter.

Liking is high in this Posterwatch, with seven campaigns scoring 60 per cent or more. Kit Kat is the clear winner with 69 per cent approval. Four posters – The Independent, The Times, L’Oréal and Benetton tie for second place, all of them liked by about two-thirds of respondents.

Lee Jeans and the Teletubbies were only just behind, scoring six out of ten. Forty-four per cent liked Virgin Direct, and slightly fewer Superkings and Cable & Wireless.

The posters appealed particularly to the strongest sector of the market: 18- to 24-year-olds. Liking for all the posters was highest in this age group, with the exception of Virgin Direct, whose subject matter – complex financial products – probably accounts for its focus of appeal to over 45-year-olds.

The Times, The Independent and Benetton achieved particularly high scores among the under-25s, each one achieving 80 per cent approval.

Kit Kat’s overall leadership in the liking ranking is based on its strong appeal to a more general market, performing well across the age spectrum.

The Times poster has the ‘it’ factor

To be worth the effort, posters have to have “stopper value”. Most of them are taken in from a car, so they have to make you stop and look, to hold your eye and impart the image. They need a striking visual, something to make you bother to look at it.

The Times advertisements (left) have that crucial quality. The visual – using X-ray photography – is intrinsically interesting and it ties up with the line “Under the skin of sport”; the two elements combine to make you take notice.

Virgin Direct is a pretty good campaign, although there have been some wittier lines written. The great thing about it is that it is Virgin-branded, the tone of voice is Virgin, it’s not stuffy and it’s not stiff. Although Virgin sells an eclectic mix of products, and it uses a raft of agencies, it is clear in all its advertising that it understands who its market is, and how it likes to be spoken to – an admirable achievement.

Lee’s “Put the boot in” leaves me cold. It has been contentious, but the debate over whether it’s offensive to men has been more interesting than the ad. Whether it is offensive or not is not the criterion by which an ad should be judged; it’s more useful to compare it with other ads in the category. Unlike the Wrangler or Levi’s campaigns, this fails to tell you anything interesting about the product – a classic example of contentious not being the same as good.

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