| April 17, 2008
Last month, I wrote about two ads produced by Fallon—the "Gorilla" ad for Cadbury's Dairy Milk, and the "Cake" ad for the Skoda Fabia. When I wrote that post
, it was clear that the Gorilla ad was quite the sensation, attracting the attention of agency planners and YouTube viewers. Since then, Fallon was named Agency of the Year at the 32nd British Television Advertising Awards, Gorilla was named as the Best TV Commercial of the year, and Cake won a Gold award.
Both ads are unconventional. But one is for an entrenched and beloved CPG brand, while the other is for an automotive brand that has had a difficult history in the UK. So, in my post, I asked you if you thought that Cake ad would do as much for Skoda as Gorilla did for Cadbury's Dairy Milk (CDM).
The consensus among the brave group of people who responded seemed to be that because associations with the Skoda brand are not as positive as associations with CDM, the Cake ad could not do as much for the Fabia as Gorilla could for CDM. Another factor mentioned was the vast difference between the purchase decisions for cars and chocolate. Because an automotive purchase is a highly considered one, the Cake ad was believed to have less opportunity to be influential.
I was pleased to see the comments the post inspired and the discussion it generated. But now I would like to consider the Cake ad from another angle, and share some results we got from testing it as part of an R&D project. (Sorry, but I still can't share any results on Gorilla.)
As you can see from the summary below, there should be little doubt that this ad is going to engage its audience. People found it highly enjoyable and distinctive and it left them feeling good. The music and the action on screen drew people in and kept them engaged throughout the ad. The Awareness Index predicted for the ad is high enough to place the ad in the top 10 percent on that metric.
But what about persuasion? As our commenters pointed out, buying a car is not like buying a bar of chocolate. It is a much more considered decision. Does the ad provide enough new, relevant, and differentiating information to persuade people to buy the Fabia? No, of course it doesn't. But it doesn't have to. That's not what Skoda needed from this ad. A quick look at BRANDZ data from 2007 on the Skoda Fabia will help us understand the context in which the ad was intended to work.
Though it has been present in the U.K. market for a long time, Skoda is not very well known. With 36 percent presence, it ranks ahead of brands like Seat or Kia, but lagging the likes of Honda, Renault and GM's Vauxhall. While it is on par with Mazda on presence, it lacks Mazda's ability to move people on to the relevance level. Mazda carries most people with presence though to relevance (the point at which people might seriously start to consider the brand) while Skoda only manages to progress about half. When we look at the advantage level, we find that only about one in ten people believe that Skoda has an advantage over other car brands, compared to almost one in five for Mazda. The people who actually do bond with Skoda tend to do so more on the basis of price than emotional affinity.
So Skoda faced two basic problems last year. Few people knew enough about it to even consider it, and many of those that did know about it didn't want to be seen driving it, or didn't think it would meet their needs (or both).
TV advertising could help address the first problem, but could it really be expected to address the second? I doubt it. But because people do not buy a new car on the basis of seeing one TV commercial, we really need to consider how all the potential touch points will work together to have an impact, not focus on the TV campaign in isolation. What the TV advertising could do was to sensitize people to the brand and provide enough buzz to encourage them to pay attention to other communications, particularly independent reviews.
One indicator of an ad's buzz potential is the degree to which people say that would talk to others about it and share it online. The Link pre-test found that a large proportion of people said they would do this – a much larger proportion than we had found in previous work on viral advertising.
Journalists and bloggers latched onto the ad. Headlines referencing "cake" appeared in many places, including reviews of the new Fabia. I would suggest that people were primed to read these reviews as a result of the engaging TV advertising, which may have indirectly encouraged people to change their minds about the brand.
This was not just serendipity but a carefully planned strategy, as the following quote from the Car Connection
With talk of the car being "a tasty model" and the "icing on the cake" of the VW-owned firm, journalists even got a packet of cake mix through the mail so they could bake their own slightly smaller version.
And the strategy seems to be working. Note this exchange on autoblog.com
"HotRodzNKustoms wrote: I bet it taste like crap just because it's Skoda"
"(mxrz in reply) Did you just woke up from a comma [sic]
? Skodas have been the complete oposite of crap for the last several years, and only getting better."
This survey on TopGear
shows three Skodas in the top seven in customer satisfaction.
So to my mind, the Fabia ad succeeds at a number of levels. It is engaging and rewards the viewer for their time. It sets the brand up as interesting and different. It helps trigger word of mouth that will get the brand talked about. It helps prime people's attention to communication in other media. What's not to like?