The world has changed immeasurably in the 30 years since Marketing Week’s first edition launched in 1978. Over this period, readers have been able to track the transformation of media, marketing and brands through our pages as we put in context some of the dizzying developments that have reshaped the world.
To mark those three tumultuous decades, we have taken the opportunity to try to quantify what the public thinks are the best brands, new products and advertising campaigns of the past 30 years. We commissioned YouGov to question members of its internet panel over three days in August. Some 2082 respondents looked at lists of brands, products and campaigns and chose their top three.
Decisive winners emerge in each category. Microsoft is rated the best brand of the era, while Google’s search engine earns the plaudit of best new product. The ad campaign for Nescafé Gold Blend, featuring a couple’s romantic encounter, has been voted the best ad campaign of the period.
Microsoft has the edge over joint-second place BBC and Google in the best brand category. But the public have placed these three in an elevated class of their own, with scores far outstripping that of the next contender, Tesco, which in turn surpasses its closest rival Amazon by a long way.
Perhaps an encouraging sign for UK brand owners is that “British” brands occupy about half the positions in the best brands category. The BBC, Tesco, Sky, Dyson, Virgin, Walkers and Innocent all have a strong showing in the list.
Hands-down winner in the best new product category is Google’s search engine with 47% of mentions, a third more than its nearest rival, SMS text messaging. The finger-pressing communication medium comes in just ahead of Freeview – much loved by those in social grades C2DE – which has beaten the more upmarket Sky Plus into fourth place by a long way.
The results suggest that the most recent product launches have an advantage in being fresh in people’s minds. The Apple iPod, introduced in 2001, beats the Dyson vacuum cleaner, which was conceived in 1978. Facebook beats the National Lottery and recent launches such as The London Eye, Metro newspaper and Toyota Prius all make the top 15.
While the Gold Blend ads, launched in 1987, are judged the best advertising campaign of the past 30 years by a long chalk, second place goes to the Cadbury Gorilla ad launched in 2007. The survey suggests that, in contrast to new product launches, old ad campaigns are the most popular.
The top 15 campaigns, by contrast, are dominated by the creations of distant decades. Apart from Gorilla, the only other top-rated ads from the past few years are from Honda’s Power of Dreams campaign. Old favourites prevail, such as Levi’s 1985 launderette ad and the Cinzano ads featuring Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins from the 1970s. Only two of the top campaigns are still running, those for Walkers Crisps featuring Gary Lineker and Nike’s Just Do It slogan.
For most of the brands and campaigns mentioned, there is little difference in the scores between different groups. But Microsoft and the BBC seem to be far more appealing to men than women, while text messaging scores much higher with females than males. The Gold Blend couple are a hit with women but less so with men, who prefer the Cinzano ads. There is a clear London bias towards the BBC and Apple.
The survey reveals a fascinating picture of the public’s appreciation of the way marketing has contributed to their lives. It is worth noting that if quizzed, professionals from the worlds of marketing, media and advertising would probably have a pretty similar list of favourites.