Was This Little-Known British Ad the Most Emotionally Engaging of 2017?

Research firm System1 unveils its FeelMore50 list

Gravity Road's spot for belVita tops the list with its story of a comical train conductor. belVita
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Wait, we’re not done with the 2017 lists yet! Here’s an intriguing one from research firm System1 ranking the 10 most emotionally engaging spots of the year—based on testing of 705 award-winning or viral global TV ads and digital films among 56,400 consumers.

Coming out on top was a little-known British ad with less than 100,000 views on YouTube. It’s called “Next Stop: Good Mornings” and was made by agency Gravity Road for Mondelēz biscuit brand belVita. It features a character that we’ve all come across at some point in our lives—the public transit announcer who goes off script to make people smile.

Check it out here:

1. belVita: “Next Stop: Good Mornings” (U.K.)

Agency: Gravity Road

“Belvita is a great example of emotional advertising,” says Sarah Patterson, commercial director at System1 Research. “It does two things particularly well. It has a terrific emotional idea—beating the blues on Blue Monday—and it has a brilliant central character in George, the comedian guard. It can be tough to make British consumers smile, so for a British ad to get the best results out of any of the 700 we tested is quite an achievement.”

System1’s ranking, now in its fifth year, is called the FeelMore50 list. It measures what people feel about an ad, and how intensely they feel it. The method is based on studies that show how emotional response is the best predictor of long-term profitable growth from an ad, System1 says.

“Emotional advertising gives you more bang for your buck,” says company president Alex Hunt. “We’ve shown that at the same level of investment, a 5-Star ad delivers three times the long-term share growth of an average, 2-Star ad.”

Four U.S. spots made the top 10—coming in at No. 3, No. 6, No. 8 and No. 9. See those here:

2. YKK: “Zipper & Bears” (Japan)

Agency: Adk Asatsu DK


3. Jameson Whiskey: “The Long Lost Barrel” (U.S.)

Agency: EVB

4. Netto Marken Discount: Die Oster-Überraschung #DerWahreOsterhase” (Germany)

Agency: Jung von Matt

5. President’s Choice: “Eat Together” (Canada)

Agency: John St.

6. Coldwell Banker: “Somebody to Love” (U.S.)

Agency: Siltanen & Partners

7. Monoprix: ‘Lait Drole La Vie’ (France)

Agency: Rosapark


8. Nespresso: “Coming Home” (U.S.)

Agency: McCann New York

9. Kia: “Hero’s Journey” (U.S.)

Agency: David&Goliath

10. McDonald’s: “McLanche Feliz” (Brazil)

Agency: DPZ&T


Here is System1’s methodology for the study:

We tested 705 ads, showing each to a sample of 80 consumers, and speaking to a total of 56,400 consumers. We used online recruitment to obtain nationally representative samples of consumers in each country where we tested ads. Each consumer was exposed to a single ad and then immediately asked how they felt about using a proprietary tool that shows respondents universally recognized facial expressions instead of relying on words. Respondents were also asked how strongly they felt their selected emotion about the ad. Emotion felt and intensity of emotion were combined into a one-number Emotion-into-Action™, validated against external databases to predict long term profitable growth for a brand. Nationally representative samples of respondents are recruited into a 10-minute online survey. Each respondent is exposed to a single ad, then asked a series of questions. The most important question is FaceTrace®, a proprietary tool that has respondents tell us how they feel about an ad using a wheel of images that displays the facial expressions of the seven universally recognizable human emotions (plus neutrality or lack of emotion). Each emotion also has 3-levels of intensity, making this question in essence a 22-point scale. We use the emotion felt and its intensity to calculate a one-number Emotion-into-Action (E-i-A) score: positive emotions (Happiness and Surprise) mean a higher score, while negative ones (including Neutrality) drag the score down. This E-i-A score is predictive of long-term profitable growth. The E-i-A score is the measurement we use for the FeelMore50. The main list, regional lists, and sector lists are made up of the ads with the highest E-i-A scores in our tests. We ask additional questions designed to diagnostically understand why an ad is or is not working on an emotional level, and include types of happiness, open ended reasons for emotion, brand fluency via recall, and implicit time-pressured associations with the ad/brand. Finally we expose respondents to the ad for a second time and asks them to tell us how their emotions change throughout the ad. These extra questions do not contribute to the ad’s position on the FeelMore50 list, but we draw on them for analysis and commentary.

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.