How Specsavers, Rowse Honey and Quaker proved the ‘power of print’

From dialling up the humour to tackling social injustice, these companies successfully used print to build long term brand equity, according to Kantar’s ‘The Works’ study.

Source: Shutterstock

Readers are in complete control when it comes to what print ads they give time to, so creative for this channel needs an attention-grabbing hook to draw people in.

Specsavers, Rowse Honey and Quaker are three brands which have successfully navigated those challenges to create standout print ads, according to Kantar’s ‘The Works’ study.

The study, which is produced in association with Marketing Week and the Advertising Association’s Trust Working Group, asks 750 consumers to give their thoughts on the top print ads over the period. It also tracks the facial expressions and eye movements of those viewing the ad.

Specsavers deployed its trademark sense of humour and a familiar punchline in its ad. Using a reimagination of the ‘Snellen’ eye test, the brand cleverly subverted expectations.

Specsavers The Works
Source: Specsavers via Kantar

According to the study, the ad measures in the top 1% of UK ads for distinctiveness, with viewers appreciating the clever, on-brand use of the eye test mechanism.

The ad measured in the top 12% for likeability and the top 19% for humour. The familiarity of both the eye test and the long-running Specsavers campaign proved popular and held attention. Readers’ eyes followed the text to the logo at the bottom of the page.

“It makes you look carefully at the ad, right down to the bottom because curiosity always wins,” said one participant.

According to Kantar head of creative excellence, Lynne Deason, the Specsavers ad serves as a “brilliant reminder” of the power of sticking with the same creative platform across media contexts over an extended period of time.

[These ads] show how creative and effective print ads make meaningful connections with readers in an emotionally powerful way.

Lynne Deason, Kantar

“A benefit of this commitment is that the ad is instantly recognisable as an addition to the ‘Should’ve gone…’ campaign series. This evokes feelings of warmth and familiarity, and the ad could only be for Specsavers and no other brand,” Deason adds.

The study found distinctive brand assets, including the brand’s familiar green colour palette, make the ad easy to recognise as being from Specsavers. The advert scores in the top 3% for its clear brand cues.

“This fantastic print ad does far more than remind people of Specsavers and make it top of mind again, it makes people more predisposed to go to Specsavers than other opticians in both the short- term and the long-term,” says Deason.

“It sets Specsavers apart from other brands, making it feel different to other alternatives (top 26% of all ads) and it makes the brand feel more meaningful (top 12% of ads).”

Protecting nature chimes with consumers

Another advert highlighted for praise comes from Rowse Honey. The creative centres on the brand’s ‘Hives for Lives’ campaign, which has been protecting bees and beekeepers for 15 years. The image of a bee and the ‘Hives for Lives’ stamp are the first things viewers notice when they see the ad.

“The ad lands in the top 3% of UK ads for conveying that the brand is making a positive difference to the environment and/or society,” says Deason.

Rowse The Works
Source: Rowse via Kantar

Striking natural imagery also helped the ad to stand out, particularly during the cold, drab weather the UK has experienced so far in 2024.

“A nice serene, colourful ad. Straight away I thought healthy and summer,” noted one of the consumer panel.

The imagery evoked the taste of honey, which was another popular factor, while conservation efforts around bees were met with high levels of approval.

“These impressions motivate people to choose Rowse over other options in the shorter term (top 20%) and they also halo onto how people feel about the brand in a way that will strengthen Rowse’s longer term equity and predisposition to choose it over other alternatives (top 10%),” says Deason.

“It makes people love the brand more (top 3%). They feel it meets their needs (top 7%). They feel it’s different to others (top 7%) and it’s strongly linked to the Rowse brand (top 13%).”

A popular purpose

A purpose-based ad from Quaker also landed well with consumers, scoring in the top 5% of ads for conveying how the brand is making a positive contribution to society.

The advert explains that one in four children could go to school hungry in the winter, which is why Quaker is donating 3 million warm breakfasts to those in need. The attention-grabbing headline is coupled with a powerful and emotive visual representation of the children who could go hungry.

“It is a shocking statistic that more people need to be aware of,” said one of the members of the consumer panel.

Quaker The Works
Source: Quaker via Kantar

“The distinction between the hungry and not hungry children made a real impact. I think it’s attention grabbing and quite memorable,” said another.

The thermal imagery used in the ad shows the difference between those children who are going hungry and those who aren’t.

“Quaker taking action to make sure children have breakfast is something that people really value and it makes them feel more positively towards the Quaker brand,” says Deason.

She explains this sense of warmth is reflected in the increase in positive feelings towards Quaker, with affinity landing in the top 11% of all UK ads. Given the brand is seen to be making a difference, in a way that is relevant and meaningful, Quaker also comes through strongly with branding being in the top 20% of UK ads, Deason explains.

“The ad has the power to deliver both short-term sales (top 26%), but is particularly powerful at building Quaker’s equity in the longer term (top 13%),” she adds.

According to Deason the ads from Specsavers, Rowse and Quaker illustrate the “power of print advertising” to deliver against different strategic and commercial objectives.

How three brands achieved creative effectiveness in regional news brands

“They show how creative and effective print ads make meaningful connections with readers in an emotionally powerful way, whether through humour and entertainment, arousing desirability or by communicating the purposeful activities that brands are doing to make a genuine different to society or the planet,” she explains.

Deason argues these ads benefit the brand, because they central to what is memorable, not incidental to it.

“What these ads say about the brand and the way it’s brought to life also builds longer term equity by making the brand feel meaningfully different to others in a memorable way,” she adds.