How a Lurpak YouTube ad ranked among the most effective in March

Lurpak’s sizzling spot has many of the characteristics that “underpin” creative effective video in a YouTube context, according to the latest The Works study.


Lurpak unveiled its Lighter block butter product to customers in March 2021, with an accompanying campaign to support its growth. Ads in the campaign tell audiences that sometimes, “the simpleist [sic] things can be the greatest”.

That same mantra can often be applied to the pursuit of advertising effectiveness. In fact, a simple, 10-second ad for Lurpak Lighter has been named the most creatively effective YouTube ad of March by Kantar’s The Works study, scoring in the top 20% of all digital video ads in the UK on branding alone.

The ad opens on a shot of packaged Lurpak Lighter butter on a table, before transitioning to the butter sizzling in a hot pan. Fresh salmon and asparagus are added, with the cook spooning butter over the food. The ad ends on a shot of the Lurpak Lighter product again, but this time with some of the butter noticeably missing.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Stuart Ibberson, director of the butter category at parent company Arla Foods, defines Lurpak’s overall marketing strategy as “about more than just butter”. The brand aims to be a “champion for good food” and to create “experiences” for foodies.

However, the butter category has been experiencing a decline in recent years due to “fewer usage occasions”, he says, with many people switching to dairy-free alternatives. Customers in the category also face “barriers” due to concerns over fat content. Hence the launch of Lurpak Lighter, a “first to market innovation”.

“The launch is a key part of our strategy to drive growth back into the butter category by appealing to those people who want to eat lighter, while retaining their current food passions,” Ibberson explains.Sainsbury’s ‘eye-catching’ recipe crowned most effective ad of February

“The ad is designed to communicate the lighter credentials of the product while highlighting its simplicity in having only three natural ingredients. All while retaining the great taste that Lurpak is so famous for.”

On top of traditional above the line media channels, YouTube plays a “key role” in driving awareness, particularly among Lurpak’s core “food lovers” audience, he adds.

“Digital, including YouTube, is becoming an increasingly important part of the strategy, especially for bringing younger consumers into the brand.”

Indeed, according to Kantar’s head of creative excellence Lynne Deason, a key strength of this particular ad is its ability to “reinforce” the saliency of the Lurpak brand and its association with “delicious” food.

This is underpinned by the strength of the ad’s branding, as the short film gives Lurpak Lighter a leading role from the first second.

“In a skippable context it is important to introduce the brand within the first five seconds,” Deason explains.

However, Kantar data shows introducing the brand early does not mean strong branding is guaranteed. Ads where the brand is introduced in the first second can still suffer from “weak” branding, Deason says.

Source: Kantar

“This is not the case here,” she adds. “What makes this ad work is that the brand is the hero of the story. It is central to what we see and hear happening.”

With Lurpak’s distinctive brand assets highlighted at the beginning and end of the 10-second ad, brand cues fell in the top 25% of all ads in the UK.

Produced in association with Marketing Week and the Advertising Association’s Trust Working Group, The Works study asked 750 consumers what they thought of five of March’s top YouTube ads – 150 consumers per advert.

When asked what helped them know the ad was for Lurpak beyond the brand name, participants in the study talked across three key themes: the distinctive packaging and colours used, a connection with previous advertising (notably the voice used), and to some extent an association with the cooking and preparation of food.

Data from Kantar’s Cross Media database provides “powerful” evidence that synergy or integration with other campaign assets is a driver of effectiveness in all contexts, including digital, Deason explains.

However, the most effective ads are also customised to work in the specific context in which they appear, and online video is a context in which this customisation is crucial, she adds. This Lurpak ad has “many” of the characteristics that “underpin” creative effective video in a YouTube context.

Source: Kantar global CrossMedia studies, 2015-2017, (223 studies).

“Hooking the audience in from the start is essential. The tight-framing and close-up appetising food shots create strong visual impact, combined with the sizzling sound as the butter instantly melts and bubbles in the hot frying pan. Add the voiceover on top of this and you have a sensory experience that earns attention and arouses hunger,” Deason explains.

“This sensory reaction is such that consumers even talk about their senses being stimulated when describing what they particularly like about the ad.”

Indeed, one participant in the study who liked the ad described it as “mouth watering”, while another said it “woke up all my senses” and they “could almost smell the salmon frying in the Lurpak”.

Deason says: “This shows how paying attention to executional details and nuances really matters to ensure an ad will work optimally in that context.”

Meanwhile, the ad is enjoyed at average levels and evokes positive emotions to mainly average levels, with a feel-good factor in the top 40% of ads.

A third participant in the study said they liked that the ad was “short and to the point”. The brevity of the ad is something people overall appreciated in the YouTube context, Deason says.

During first exposure to the ad, 61% of people watched it in its entirety – around average levels. As the brand is integrated from the start, the brand name has already been conveyed “powerfully” by the point at which people are able to skip the rest of the ad.

Source: Kantar

“As such the ad works as a celebration of what Lurpak brings to food and would principally support brand saliency. It performs at average levels in terms of building love towards the brand,” Deason adds.

According to Arla Foods’ Ibberson, Lurpak uses a variety of pre- and post- testing methods to “ensure we are delivering the most effective campaigns”, including pre-testing its creative at development stage, media effectiveness benchmarking once campaigns have landed, in-flight digital campaign monitoring, and both long-term brand tracking and econometric analysis.

So far, early signs from the overall campaign have been “extremely positive”, he says, with the product having delivering more than £1m in retail sales value since launch, with over half of these incremental to Lurpak.

“We’re also seeing the all-important younger demographic coming into the brand, which is vital for the future growth and health of the brand,” he concludes.