Advertisers No Longer ‘Make People Feel,’ Kantar Warns – IGWIIKI


The advertising industry is facing a crisis in creativity–partly because it has forgotten how to make people laugh. 

Speaking at Brandweek Europe, Dom Boyd, managing director of strategy and data business at Kantar UK Insights, explained that the firm’s research shows people’s enjoyment of ads has been steadily falling since the 1990s, while advertising’s business effectiveness has also been on the decline. One of the main reasons is that the use of comedy in ads has diminished year on year for the last decade, even as humor is proven to be one of the most effective forms of communications, according to the research.

If you can’t make people feel something, you’re dead.

Dom Boyd, Kantar UK Insights

While humor is not the only method of increasing advertising’s popularity and effectiveness, “it’s a damn good shortcut,” said Boyd. “There’s a crisis in creativity, and part of that is a humor crisis, if you like–or at least an emotional connectivity crisis.”

In terms of driving emotional connectivity, the panel offered two examples of advertisers that are doing this well: Diageo-owned whisky Johnnie Walker and British confectionary brand Cadbury. 

Johnnie Walker’s 20-year-old “Keep Walking” campaign has proven to be highly effective internationally, according to Kantar’s research. While it doesn’t always use comedy, it still strives to garner an emotional response from consumers, said Chris Goddard, Johnnie Walker’s global marketing director. 

When the alcohol brand refreshed its “Keep Walking” platform with a new ad about 15 months ago, it was aiming to evoke “optimism” and “a tap of the foot” at a time of global turmoil, Goddard continued: “Emotion has many areas, one of which is humor. But we always… want the audience to feel something.”

Meanwhile, Cadbury rebranded five years ago to emphasize a spirit of generosity and kindness with its tagline, “Glass and a half in everyone.” Its subtler tone of voice and emotional storytelling stands out in the confectionary category, which tends to produce a lot of “zany and wacky” communications, said Genevieve Hole, business director at VCCP, Cadbury’s ad agency. 

“Being a bit quieter and true to life” while still tugging at people’s heartstrings “was a differentiator for us,” she explained.

Now Cadbury ranks in Kantar’s top 1% of effective advertisers and won the Grand Prix at the 2022 IPA Effectiveness Awards.

Boyd advised other marketers who want to increase effectiveness to do more early-stage development and research in order to find out how to “talk to real people” and forge stronger emotional connections. 

“We make this much more difficult than it is. This is about being populist,” he said. “If you can’t make people feel something, you’re dead.”  

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