Pepsi ad may lack fizz with viewers

The following column is one in an occasional series that shows the results of effectiveness tests on selected tv commercials conducted by advertising research company research systems corporation.A proprietary method of measuring the persuasiveness of tv commercials called ARS Persuasion is...

The following column is one in an occasional series that shows the results of effectiveness tests on selected tv commercials conducted by advertising research company research systems corporation.

A proprietary method of measuring the persuasiveness of tv commercials called ARS Persuasion is used by research systems corp.

It is a measurement of the change in brand preference due to commercial exposure.

ARS Persuasion has a 90% accuracy rate in predicting business results in split-cable test markets and has more than 300 documented validation tests.

Strategy recognizes there are numerous methods to gauge advertising effectiveness and rsc’s approach is but one of them.

Our intention is to highlight the important role of research in advertising and to stimulate thought on the subject of advertising effectiveness.

Pepsico recently made a change in its long-running Ray Charles and the Uh-huh Girls Diet Pepsi ad campaign.

In a recent spot, the Uh-huh Girls took the spotlight and Ray played backup.

The spot features the girls sitting on a beach; they are approached by two nerdy-looking guys trying to meet them.

The girls stun the guys with their knowledge of classical physics and thermodynamics.

The guys are left dumbfounded and walk away. ‘Maybe we should’ve said `Uh-huh’ ‘ one of the girls suggests as she smiles at the others.

The commercial, which was created by J. Walter Thompson in New York, closes with Ray Charles’ familiar, ‘You got the right one, baby,’ and the Uh-huh Girls’ ‘Uh-huh.’

This spot was tested by research systems corporation for Strategy among a sample of 410 men and women.

The introductory spot achieved an ARS Persuasion level of +1.7, a score significantly below the +3.0 level expected for an average commercial for this soft drink.

This commercial would not be expected to produce a measurable share increase. The ARS Persuasion measure has a 91% accuracy rate in predicting in-market sales effects in split-cable advertising tests.

The commercial was recalled by 15% of those interviewed, with the greatest response (14%) being those mentioning the situation of two guys at the beach trying to pick up three girls talking intelligently about the heat.

The sales message played back most often, ‘taste/appeal,’ was stated by only 6% of those interviewed.

The commercial contains none of the four strategic elements positively related to superior-selling commercials, helping to explain the poor results.

The initial Ray Charles Diet Pepsi commercials used a selling proposition that Diet Pepsi had a unique taste versus Diet Coke, with Ray preferring Diet Pepsi, a literal ‘blind taste test.’

This new version of the Uh-huh Girls did not contain a competitive comparison or the brand differentiation ‘unique taste’ selling proposition.

The presence of these two strategic elements has been shown by rsc research to increase the likelihood of superior ARS Persuasion scores.

Advertising research firm research systems corporation is based in Evansville, Ind., with an office in Oshawa, Ont., and can be contacted at 1-800-395-3983.