Heinz, Tesco and Aldi behind ‘most effective’ Covid-19 ads

Brands that avoid generic messages about staying at home, togetherness or looking to the future with optimism are more likely to resonate with consumers during the pandemic.

Coronavirus-related ads from Heinz, Tesco and Aldi have been the most effective so far, according to exclusive data from Kantar that shows brands focusing on what they are actively doing to help are resonating the most with consumers.

Demonstrating the power of print, Heinz’s press ad about the 12 million breakfasts it is providing for vulnerable children scored 98 (out of 100) for long-term return potential and 89 for short-term sales likelihood. It also scored 98 for brand memorability and 99 for creating warmth and love for the brand.

By comparison, McCain’s ‘Here’s To Everyone stayhome’ TV ad scored 32 on long-term, 27 on short-term and only 17 on brand memorability, while Bird’s Eye’s ‘What’s for Tea‘ TV ad scored 43, 36 and 44 respectively.

Also at the top end, Tesco’s ‘Some little helps for safer shopping‘ scored 89 for long-term return potential and 92 for short-term sales likelihood. It scored the highest mark possible for brand memorability (100) and 96 for creating branded memories.

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By contrast, Tesco’s ‘Food Love Stories‘ only scored 37 for long-term return potential and 24 for short-term sales likelihood. The ad came out on top for making people feel emotional (95) but scored poorly on grabbing attention (17) and brand memorability (16).

Showing that appropriately-used humour can be effective in times of crisis, Aldi and Kevin the Carrot’s video ad on Facebook scored 65 for long-term return potential, 72 for short-term sales likelihood and 93 for brand memorability.

Brand Long-term return potential Short-term sales likelihood Does it grab your attention? Brand memorability Create warmth/love for brand?
Aldi 65 72 34 93 69
Nike 7 13 15 52 13
Skyscanner 28 56 35 30 32
Heinz 98 89 73 98 99
Tesco (social distancing) 89 92 81 100 91
Bird’s Eye 43 36 14 44 61
Tesco (Food Love Stories) 37 24 17 16 61
McCain 32 27 18 17 55
British Airways 47 62 23 96 38
Emirates 35 67 20 74 28
Budweiser 33 43 97 79 20

Kantar’s research suggests people are starting to get fed up with ads that look and feel the same and that don’t have anything specific to say about themselves.

Some feel that brands are just jumping on the bandwagon and they are fed-up of being reminded about the situation. These brands are either encouraging people to stay at home, trying to create a feeling of togetherness and pride, or looking to the future with optimism. While they are not overtly disliked, they are not found to be especially memorable either.

Ads that reference the current situation but don’t have anything different to say to the next brand, struggle to cut through.


This is especially true for Nike’s ‘Play for the world ad’, which has the lowest scores for a number of measures: seven for long-term return potential, 13 for short-term sales likelihood, four for ‘does it make people feel more positive’ and five for ‘does it make the brand feel different to alternatives?’.

Skyscanner’s ‘We Will‘ ad also recorded one of the lower scores for long-term return potential (28) but did better on short-term sales likelihood (56).

Budweiser’s repurposed ‘Wassup Bud‘ ad was also on the lower end of the table in terms of long-term return potential (33) and short-term sales likelihood (43). It had one of the lowest scores for creating warmth or love for the brand too (20). However, the ad did come out on top for grabbing people’s attention (97).

BA’s ‘Dear Britain’ and Emirates’s ‘Do you remember’ YouTube ads scored 47 and 35 respectively for long-term return potential and 62 and 67 respectively for short-term sales likelihood. Both brands scored well on brand memorability (96 and 74 respectively) but not so well on creating warmth and love for the brand (38 and 28 respectively).

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Kantar says the results are akin to what often happens in product categories.

“An unwritten set of category codes gets established because these key moments are considered essential to conveying what the product is and what it does,” Kantar explains. “If you’re a deodorant brand for example you need to show wetness, armpits and the product being applied. This is often accentuated further when the brand doesn’t have anything different to say about itself versus other alternatives.”

However, brands that follow these codes are more likely to struggle to break through, grab attention and build affinity with consumers.

“The brands that win out are those that pursue a creative and distinctive creative platform, through a powerful and original human insight that resonates deeply, or through a unique brand vision or purpose,” Kantar says.

“Ads that reference the current situation but don’t have anything different to say to the next brand, struggle to cut through. They don’t make the featured brands feel different to other alternatives and they aren’t strongly building love towards the brands either.”

According to Kantar, the average potential for these ads to contribute to the long-term growth of these brands is in the bottom 30% of ads in the UK.

“Whilst these ads aren’t damaging the brand, they aren’t maximising the return that can be achieved from that hard-earned production and media money,” Kantar says. “If you have existing brand cues, make sure they are fully leveraged in a way that is resonant with the creative idea.”

Kantar researched 11 ads – 6 digital ads (2 videos in a Facebook context, 1 static display in a Facebook context, 3 videos in a YouTube Context), 5 TV ads and 1 static print ad – that referenced the current pandemic situation in some way, using LinkNow powered by Kantar Marketplace. The sample was 150 adults aged 18-65, with a 50/50 m/f split. 



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