This research demonstrates how brands can achieve both speed of branding and intensity of emotional response via short term advertising. 

The research is based upon System1’s Spike Rating – a predictive score that indicates short-term sales effect over the 8-10 weeks after an advert has aired, derived from two factors: speed of branding and intensity of emotional response. 

System1 mapped 20,000 UK ads from their Test Your Ad platform to see where they sat in terms of these factors. They then looked at the four extremes: ads doing well on one but not the other, well on both or poorly on both – and analysed 50 ads from each category to see what they had in common. 

The research found that adverts with strong speed of branding but low emotional intensity tend to lean into performance and activation, and use left-brained features to strengthen product focus. Ads that generate high emotional intensity but low speed of branding tended to use right-brained features and employed familiarity, including a strong sense of place and familiar cultural references.

Ads that achieved both strong emotional intensity and fast speed of branding offered consistent narrative and messaging, embedded brand cues into humorous narratives and brought fluent devices to life. Importantly, previous System1 research revealed that such elements are highly beneficial for brand building, pointing to the possibility of focusing on short-term gains while also contributing to long-term effects.

“Achieving short-term sales success is a tricky tightrope to walk and is reliant on brands utilising both right and left-brained features. Employment of fluent devices and distinctive assets, generating emotional intensity through familiarity and other tactics such as humour can – when combined and consistently employed – help brands achieve a strong Spike Rating, and therefore boost the short-term impact of their ads.” Jon Evans, Chief Customer Officer, System 1

The research provides five industry best practices for achieving high emotional intensity and high speed of branding, and therefore a high Spike Rating:

  • Employ fluent devices, recurring and recognisable characters and scenarios, as they serve to both drive emotional intensity and brand awareness.

  • Utilise distinctive assets, which are particularly effective for a right-brained narrative.

  • Promote right-brained features (such as sense of place, humour and hummable music) which drive emotional intensity and help support long-term ad effectiveness.

  • Be consistent – distinctive assets and fluent devices should be used regularly and consistently across different campaigns.

  • Employ multiple features - features that drive Spike don’t work in isolation, and the most effective Spike ads incorporate more than one feature.

Adverts that have effectively employed these tactics and achieved high Spike Ratings include Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot advert for Christmas 2022 (1.69), Cadbury’s “Mum’s Birthday” (1.67) and Compare the Market’s meerkats (1.50).