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Thank you NSRI - For saving lives, and making great ads

We love a good ad. We love a good ad, because we love a good story told in a few moments.
This is why we chose to evaluate a recent offering from Ogilvy Cape Town – a two-minute tribute to the men and women who dedicate their lives to save the lives of countless others, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI). If you’ve not seen the ad, please do yourself a favour and enjoy it here:



This advertisement had such an impact on the Columinate team, we simply had to see how many people agreed with us. Here’s what we found:

Understanding the methodology

During the first week of February 2018 we interviewed 1004 research participants, a group representative of urban South Africa. We applied our Affective Cognitive Testing (or ACT) model, which is our comprehensive ad testing solution. We use ACT to evaluate the effectiveness of creative elements in any media format, and as the name suggests, ACT measures both the emotive and cognitive aspects of an ad.

Accordingly, Columinate’s ACT model consists of four pillars:
  1. Feel – Which emotions are viewers experiencing?
  2. Think – What do viewers think when they see the ad?
  3. Connect – Are these thoughts and feelings linked to the brand?
  4. Recall – Do viewers recall the ad after having seen it before (only for in-market ads)?
The findings

As expected from a FEEL perspective, the ad tested through the roof, with 68% of respondents registering a strong positive reaction. A great performance, especially if you consider that the industry norm for this category is 51% for “Strong Emotive Impact”. Only 3% of respondents said they didn’t like the ad, while the vast majority of respondents indicated that the ad has a strong inspirational appeal, with many exhibiting gratitude toward sea-rescuers.

Despite its strong appeal, the NSRI ad did perform slightly below the industry benchmark on the THINK dimension, scoring 73% (industry norm is 81%). Meaning that 27% of respondents weren’t confident about what the ad was trying to convey. Added to that, the ad performed marginally lower in the CONNECT category, with only 69% of respondents being able to link the ad strongly to the brand (industry norm is 77%). While that’s not ideal (we want the brave volunteers at the NSRI to receive as much appreciation and support in recognition for their selfless and heroic acts) we do attribute the slightly lower scores in the THINK and CONNECT categories to the fact that the NSRI is not a frequent advertiser. The Institute has a robust presence on social media, but the tales of their heroism rarely migrate beyond their own channels. This means that when South Africans were treated to this television commercial, many incorrectly assumed that it was for a life-insurer. To remedy this, we would naturally recommend that the NSRI spend more time communicating (via impactful ads such as this one) with the broader South African audience. But we are also fully aware that the institute would much rather spend their hard-earned contributions on saving lives – and rightfully so.

The ad needed a little something to top it off – a call to action. While that may not have been the goal with this specific piece, 60% of the respondents said that they are likely to visit the NSRI website to find more information, and to donate. A total of 30% were interested in learning more about the NSRI, although they admitted they weren’t likely to donate. This seems like incredible mobilisation, but the extra hurdles viewers had to overcome to hand over their donations may have led their motivation to dwindle. Just a consideration for future projects.

Finally, to the NSRI – from the entire Columinate team, you punched us right in the feels, and we’re very grateful for the important work you do every day. While your ad is one of the best we’ve seen in the last year, it pales in comparison to the bravery of your volunteers. We thank you.

12 Mar 2018 09:54

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About Henk Pretorius

Henk Pretorius is the co-founder and CEO of Columinate. He is a marketing researcher and registered research psychologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Henk has worked with blue-chip clients in a diverse range of industries, including FMCG, financial services, media, advertising, telecommunications, online services, pharmaceutical and academic. Henk is also a current board member of Brand Council of South Africa (BCSA). Follow @henkpret and @Columinate on Twitter.




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The largest sample size for a single client project…We know!

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