Adwatch of the year: As the year draws to a close Gail Kemp presents 1998’s winners and losers in Adwatch, the superleague for TV commercials, compiled for Marketing by NOP

With gloomy talk of economic downturns and budget tightening, marketers and advertisers may have little to look forward to in 1999. Whether there is a recession or not, next year will be a tough one and advertisers will demand campaigns that maximise every pound spent.

With gloomy talk of economic downturns and budget tightening,

marketers and advertisers may have little to look forward to in 1999.

Whether there is a recession or not, next year will be a tough one and

advertisers will demand campaigns that maximise every pound spent.

Past experiences suggest that consistent, high-profile advertising helps

brands survive, and even grow, through a recession. But with other

elements of the marketing mix already chipping away at above-the-line

budgets, ad agencies will face growing pressure to prove the value of

their work.

Adwatch - the only column to monitor TV advertising recall on a weekly

basis - has never been so keenly scoured by agencies and advertisers

alike, which find that the NOP research, comprising a weekly telephone

poll of 1000 adults, invariably ties in very closely with their own.

Adwatch of the Year is an advertising superleague derived from the 50

Adwatch tables published between December 4 1997 and November 26


The first table demonstrates memorability across the year by totalling

all the weekly recall percentages. Inevitably, big-budget brands tend to

score well here. The second table, which features the year’s

best-recalled single commercials, allows brands with perhaps smaller

budgets to demonstrate their impact on viewers’ recall.

As in 1997, both tables are topped by BT with its massive pounds 136m

budget - although in the table for best-recalled single commercials (see

page 23), it shares top honours with a BMP DDB commercial for Walkers

Crisps, which spent only pounds 8m across the year.

The table for memorability across the year (see opposite page) is

dominated by last year’s top three: BT, McDonald’s and Asda. Although BT

is still the clear number one, its recall figures are down on last year

- perhaps a consequence of its more disparate advertising strategy -

while both McDonald’s and Asda notched up more responses.

But budget alone does not guarantee success, as can be seen from the

huge falls for supermarket brands Safeway and Sainsbury’s, which have

dropped nine and 14 places respectively on last year. This is

particularly unfortunate for Sainsbury’s which, with the second-biggest

budget in the table, only manages to hit 18th place. Tesco, however,

which was nowhere last year despite the efforts of Prunella Scales and

Jane Horrocks, has entered the table one place above Sainsbury’s.

Asda continues to reap the rewards of consistency as its ’pocket-tap’

commercials make it once again the best-recalled supermarket. Its only

serious rival is Somerfield, which has leapt into the table for the

first time at number eight on a comparatively small budget. The ad

agency that made it happen, RPM3, will not be cracking open the

champagne with any great enthusiasm - the agency did not repitch for the

business when a review was announced last month.

Still on the high street, Bates Dorland’s green alien has put a bit of

wonder back into Woolworths, which has shot into seventh place, while

Boots’ pounds 40m advertising investment has earned it 13th position.

Specsavers remains the only top 20 brand to create its advertising

in-house, although it is three places down on last year. McDonald’s,

despite its continuing dominance, should take a look over its shoulder.

Burger King, with a new agency and an increased budget, has hit the

league for the first time.

Like Somerfield, both Walkers and Iceland have changed the agencies that

put their names in the top 20 - BMP DDB and Tom Reddy Advertising. It is

a particular blow for BMP whose legendary Gary Lineker work was always

spectacularly successful both in Adwatch and in the marketplace. At

number four this year, on a budget of pounds 8m, Walkers’ campaign is

the best value advertising in Britain.

BMP also deserves a special mention for another campaign which used a

celebrity to maximum effect - its Dawn French work for Terry’s Chocolate

Orange was just outside the top 20 in both tables on a budget of just

pounds 2.6m.

The one market that needs to seriously address its anodyne advertising

is the motor industry. There are no cars in this year’s league; in 1997,

both Peugeot and Renault were top performers but even the PR success of

the Clio ’wedding’ film was not enough to put it into the Adwatch top

20. Other 1998 no-shows are Direct Line, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes (the

first time for several years that these brands have missed out), Vision

Express and Cadbury’s Creme Eggs.

Below we look at the marketing and advertising strategies behind some of

the campaigns featured in Adwatch of the Year.


Despite reducing its budget by pounds 22m, BT still put pounds 86m into

business, corporate and mobile advertising, although it was the pounds

50m consumer campaign that achieved top awareness levels.

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s 1998 consumer objective was twofold: to

stress BT’s service provision by showing people returning to BT; and to

encourage people to do more with telecommunications through the ’Tell

Someone About It’ work, which broke on Christmas Day 1997.

The style of the advertising has been naturalistic ’slice of life’ and,

unlike the mid-90s days of Bob Hoskins and Rory McGrath, there was no

single celebrity focus. Ironically, however, the top score in Adwatch

1998 went to the last ad in the 1997 campaign, featuring Jeffery Archer

promoting a long-distance calls offer.

Next year’s campaign is likely to be different again. After five years,

the business is up for statutory review and, following the merger of all

its separate divisions into BT UK, the company will be looking for a

fresh approach. As new business directors hit the phones in droves, BT’s

marketing department will find out for itself just how good it is to



McDonald’s credits its success to its ’think global, act local’

advertising strategy which takes global strategies and adapts them to

local culture.

Leo Burnett made more than 30 commercials this year, either for

promotional campaigns or for ongoing brand advertising.

The brand advertising campaign for McDonald’s developed an observational

approach. The commercials focused on British family life, for example

’Clever Daddy’ and ’Birds and Bees’; even Alan Shearer was shown in the

role of family man rather than England captain.

The commercial that came joint fourth in the single week recall table,

however, was one of two promotional films for a McDonald’s scratchcard

linked to its World Cup sponsorship. The commercial featured a boy and

his granny and, while he won a free burger, she was acutely disappointed

with her prize, the World Cup tickets that her grandson was desperate to


As McDonald’s gears up to celebrate its 25th anniversary in Britain in

1999, Leo Burnett’s strategy looks set to continue until the



Publicis made 11 Asda commercials this year, eight for food and three

for George clothing, all stressing the long-term value proposition.

Aimed at housewives with children, they all included the famous jingle

and pocket tap, although the media strategy changed this year.

Instead of regular bursts of advertising, Asda was on-air almost

constantly with more of a ’drip’ focus - a strategy that appears to have

generated higher awareness levels this year. Asda’s own research

indicates that it achieves, per TVR, up to six times the awareness of

its competitors.

Having made more than 100 commercials since 1992, all with a consistent

theme and recognisable style, Asda is in good advertising shape if the

retail downturn intensifies next year.


In its four years on the account, BMP DDB helped Walkers grow into a

mega-brand. Indeed, the research that won the agency an IPA

Effectiveness Award in 1996 proved that the advertising was directly

responsible for selling a million extra packs of Walkers every day.

In all, the agency created 17 ’Gary Lineker’ executions, most of which

promoted specific flavours. This year’s advertising was slightly

different, with a Walkers Lite commercial and the Mission Impossible

spoof which promoted Walkers’ across-the-board relaunch.

But the film that scored top marks in our table for the best-recalled

single commercials was the ’Stanley Matthews’ spot - a general ad

celebrating 50 years of Walkers. Appropriately for the end of an

advertising era, the commercial revealed who taught Lineker everything

he knows in the crisp-nicking department.

Lineker is shown as a child being taken to a match by his grandfather,

played by Lineker himself. When the young man asks for the autograph of

his hero, Stanley Matthews, Matthews pinches one of his crisps and

writes ’Sorry, Gary’.

Following a global realignment of Pepsico advertising, AMV BBDO has been

given the account and now has the task of taking Walkers into the next

century - a huge advertising challenge for a brand whose recent

campaigns have become a favourite with the public and the industry



Coca-Cola continues to use three main agencies for its campaigns in this

country: Edge Creative in Los Angeles for global work; Wieden & Kennedy

for advertising linked to its football sponsorship; and Publicis for its

mainstream, local advertising, which this year was based around the

’lyric logo’ campaign.

In a World Cup year, much of the budget supported Wieden & Kennedy’s

’For the fans’ advertising which, due to England’s success in reaching

the later stages of the competition, ran for longer than


Coca-Cola’s global status gave it a perfect platform to address football

fans of all nations through Wieden & Kennedy’s ’Eat football, sleep

football, drink Coca-Cola’ work, which showed the joys and agonies of

supporting a national side.

This year, however, Coca-Cola ended up a definite winner - despite

reducing its budget by pounds 12m, its recall levels were almost double

those of last year.


Goldfish did not make the main table this year, but did well to make

joint number four in the second table on a budget of just over pounds

5m. This was the second year of TBWA’s three-year advertising strategy;

while 1997’s advertising was based on a heavy launch budget of pounds

10m, 1998 featured just one 50-second commercial with Billy Connolly

stressing the product benefit of savings on utility bills.

The commercial, with scenes in the desert and in the sky, showed

goldfish in unexpected places. It ran in two main bursts, supported by

heavy direct marketing campaigns - in fact, Goldfish is a case history

in using advertising and direct marketing, through two completely

different agencies, in a truly integrated way.

Sky TV

SkyDigital, the first digital platform to launch in the UK, hit the

market in the autumn and its advertising, through M&C Saatchi, proved an

immediate success. Based on the theme ’It’s what your TV’s been crying

out for’, the campaign kicked off with a short teaser burst, followed by

a 90-second launch film and two 40-second follow-ups.

It was one of these 40-seconders that became the seventh best-remembered

commercial of 1998. The film showed a suicidal TV set being reassured by

a fireman that SkyDigital would make life worth living again.

Sky had the advantage - or the challenge - of being the first into a

brand new marketplace. Having introduced the digital concept, it will

now concentrate on stressing its service provision and the range of

channels it provides.


Nanette Newman’s last Fairy advertising was in 1991 but her memory

stalked the brand until the new ’Mileage’ campaign broke last year,

earning Fairy its first ever mention in Adwatch of the Year.

The brand crept into the main table at number 20, while its

highest-scoring individual commercial, ’Advent Calendar’, came joint

number 13 in the second table. It was the third in the five-strong

’Mileage’ campaign, which shows one of the core Fairy benefits - that it

lasts longer than the competition. Separate campaigns demonstrate

mildness and cleaning power, and different work altogether promotes

Fairy with Anti-Bacterial Agent.

It is, however, the ’Mileage’ commercials that have given Fairy’s

advertising a fresh appeal. ’Advent Calendar’ showed a little girl

eagerly waiting for her mother’s Fairy Liquid to run out so she can use

the bottle to make a Christmas tree fairy.

Stand by your screens, as the film returns for Christmas 1998 - and for

next year when Grey is promising that the Fairy work will get even


Top-performing agencies

Not surprisingly, Abbott Mead Vickers is top of the agency table,

consistently featuring in Adwatch every single week with its BT work.

Although its other starring account, Sainsbury’s, has fared less well

this year, the combination of these two gave it 82 mentions.

Saatchis was close behind with its creative for Oil of Ulay, Lottery

Instants and the National Lottery all pushing it into number two


Leo Burnett and Publicis came in at third and fourth in the best


These four agencies were essentially ruling the roost with the remaining

agencies having anything between ten and 30 fewer mentions over the


As last year, the table was dominated by multinationals except for RPM3

and Tom Reddy Advertising (both of which have lost the accounts that put

them in the league). The media battle was won definitively by Zenith,

which bought four of the campaigns in the table, followed by Carat with

three mentions (one from its Manchester agency), and Universal McCann

and The Negotiation Centre with two each.

Highest recall over the year

98  97  Brand            Agency/TV buyer               Total    Budget

                                                      recall   (pounds

                                                    (adults)        m)

1   1   BT               Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/    19,449     136.3

                         The Allmond Partnership

2   2   McDonald’s       Leo Burnett                  15,403      44.7

3   3   Asda             Publicis/                    11,513      30.4


4   -   Walkers Crisps   BMP DDB/                      9,822       8.0


5   6   Coca-Cola        Edge Creative, Publicis,      8,502      22.6

                         Wieden & Kennedy/

                         Universal McCann

6   20  Oil of Ulay      Saatchi & Saatchi/            7,599      24.3

                         P&G Buying Unit

7   22  Woolworths       Bates Dorland/                4,299      24.0

                         Zenith Media

8   -   Somerfield       RPM3/                         4,132      13.5

                         The Negotiation Centre

9   14  Andrex           Foote Cone & Belding/         3,962       7.2


10  -   Lottery          Saatchi & Saatchi/            3,809       3.3

        Instants         Zenith Media

11  -   Burger King      Ammirati Puris Lintas/        3,459      15.6


12  9   Specsavers       In-house/                     3,404      18.0

                         The Negotiation Centre

13  -   Boots            J Walter Thompson/            3,330      39.1

                         BMP Optimum

14. 5   Safeway          Bates Dorland/                3,293      20.0

                         Zenith Media

15  -   Iceland          Tom Reddy Advertising/        3,041      13.0

                         Carat Manchester

16  18  Nescafe          McCann-Erickson, Publicis/    2,892      14.9

                         Universal McCann

17  -   Tesco            Lowe Howard-Spink/            2,875      25.0

                         Western International Media

18  4   Sainsbury’s      Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/     2,801      47.0

                         New PHD

19  -   National         Saatchi & Saatchi/            2,778      15.0

        Lottery          Zenith Media

20  -   Fairy Liquid     Grey Advertising/             2,698      12.1

                         P&G Buying Unit

Top performing agencies

Agency                        Number of appearances

                           in Adwatch table in 1998

Abbott Mead Vickers BDDO                         82

Saatchi & Saatchi                                80

Leo Burnett                                      74

Publicis                                         70

BMP DDB                                          60

J Walter Thompson                                57

McCann-Erickson                                  54

Bates Dorland                                    52

Ogilvy & Mather                                  42

Grey Advertising                                 39

Best recall in any single week

98  97  Brand         Agency/TV Buyer          Score     Issue   Budget

                                                  (%      date  (pounds

                                             recall)                 m)

1=  1   BT            Abbott Mead Vickers         88  04/12/97    136.3


1=  3   Walkers       BMP DDB/                    88  05/03/98      8.0

        Crisps        MediaVest

3   2   National      Saatchi & Saatchi/          82  11/06/98     15.0

        Lottery       Zenith Media

4=  12= Goldfish      TBWA GGT Simons Palmer/     81  04/12/97      5.2

                      Manning Gottlieb Media

4=  6=  Andrex        Foote Cone & Belding/       81  12/02/98      7.2

                      John Ayling &


4=  11  McDonald’s    Leo Burnett                 81  11/06/98     44.7

7=  12= Argos         Ogilvy & Mather/            80  11/12/97      8.3


7=  -   SkyDigital    M&C Saatchi/                80  19/11/98      2.3

                      Universal McCann

7=  6=  Safeway       Bates Dorland/              80  07/05/98     20.0

                      Zenith Media

10  4=  Asda          Publicis/                   79  03/09/98     30.4


11= 12= Oil of Ulay   Saatchi & Saatchi/          78  04/12/97     24.3

                      P&G Buying Unit

11= -   Nescafe       McCann-Erickson/            78  22/10/98      1.0

        Black Gold    Universal McCann

13= -   Lottery       Saatchi & Saatchi/          77  12/03/98      3.3

        Instants      Zenith Media

13= -   Fairy Liquid  Grey Advertising/           77 22/01/98      12.1

                      P&G Buying Unit

13= 6=  Halifax       Bates Dorland/              77  29/10/98     16.0

                      Zenith Media

16= -   Kellogg’s     J Walter Thompson/          76  16/04/98      6.0

        Special K     MindShare

16= -   Woolworths    Bates Dorland/              76  04/12/97     24.0

                      Zenith Media

18  -   Vodafone      BMP DDB                     75 26/11/98       3.8

        ’Pay as you   BMP Optimum


19= 20= Coca-Cola     Wieden & Kennedy/           74  22/01/98     22.6

                      Universal McCann

19= -   Peugeot 106   Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper/      74  18/06/98     12.6

                      Initiative Media


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