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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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/
6 20 Oil of Ulay Saatchi & Saatchi/ 7,599 24.3
P&G Buying Unit
7 22 Woolworths Bates Dorland/ 4,299 24.0
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
14. 5 Safeway Bates Dorland/ 3,293 20.0
15 - Iceland Tom Reddy Advertising/ 3,041 13.0
16 18 Nescafe McCann-Erickson, Publicis/ 2,892 14.9
17 - Tesco Lowe Howard-Spink/ 2,875 25.0
Western International Media
18 4 Sainsbury’s Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/ 2,801 47.0
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
BMP DDB 60
J Walter Thompson 57
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
1= 1 BT Abbott Mead Vickers 88 04/12/97 136.3
1= 3 Walkers BMP DDB/ 88 05/03/98 8.0
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
7= 6= Safeway Bates Dorland/ 80 07/05/98 20.0
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
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
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
19= - Peugeot 106 Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper/ 74 18/06/98 12.6