Labatt Blue’s streaker skews slightly to females

Ever wonder what consumers think of your commercials? Reality Check tests advertising creative against a random sample of 300 people to determine, among other things, whether they liked the commercial, whether they could identify the sponsor, whether they understood the message...

Ever wonder what consumers think of your commercials? Reality Check tests advertising creative against a random sample of 300 people to determine, among other things, whether they liked the commercial, whether they could identify the sponsor, whether they understood the message and whether, after seeing the spot, they’d be more likely to buy the brand advertised. The survey is carried out by Impact Research on a spot of Strategy’s choice. Kathleen Deslauriers, Impact’s general manager in Toronto, provides the analysis.

Advertiser: Labatt Blue

Commercial: ‘Streak’

Description: The commercial opens on the ground floor of an office building; you see people walking outside the building’s glass wall. Suddenly a man runs past, wearing only a hat, a scarf, socks and running shoes (though his genitalia are obscured). We see a series of shots of him streaking through the business district of the city, with passers-by looking shocked.

Next, we see four men playing poker at a table in a bachelor-type living room. There’s a close-up of one of them, the previously naked guy, looking very sure about his hand of cards. He is about to lay down the hand. The only other player still in the round lays his hand down at the same time. The camera shows the shock on the streaker’s face as it occurs to him he’s lost. We realize the loser has to streak to pay off the bet.

Next, there is a brief glimpse of an apartment window from outside, and then the screen changes to a light colour. We see the product’s slogan, Out of the Blue, one word at a time against the coloured background, then all together, but smaller, with the product shown to the right of the slogan. The commercial ends with the product disappearing, and we see only the slogan.

How the test commercial fared:

Considering the likely strong residual effect of Molson Canadian’s ‘Rant’ spot, the continued intrusiveness of Budweiser’s ‘Wassup’ commercials and the ‘Had Ex Today?’ campaign for Molson Export, Labatt Blue’s second-place position in terms of top-of-mind brand awareness is very good. Indeed, at 11%, Labatt Blue is seven points behind Molson Canadian, yet ahead by 6 points over Molson Export, and 4 points higher than Budweiser. Not surprisingly, there is a good deal of fragmentation in brand awareness, with 30% of top-of-mind answers falling into the ‘other’ category where brands with less than 5% of responses are classified.

When it comes to advertising awareness, Labatt Blue closes the gap with Molson Canadian, by coming just three points shy of the 22% achieved by this brand. Labatt Blue outpaces Molson Export by six points and Budweiser by eight points.

The execution reached 38% of the sample, which is almost on par with the norm of 40% had ‘Streak’ been supported by 1,000 GRPs at the time of testing. We might have expected greater awareness of the commercial given its unusual scenario. It should be noted that reach attains 47% among 18- to 34-year-olds (versus 30% among older respondents) and, perhaps because of the naked man, the execution’s reach was slightly greater among females (41% versus 36% among males)!

Among those reached by ‘Streak,’ 30% associated the commercial with either Labatt Blue (25%) or Labatt in general (5%). This result is a little below our norm of 35% at 1,000 GRP level. If we take only the Labatt Blue responses into consideration, sponsor identification is, not surprisingly, greater among 18- to 34-year-olds (31% versus 15% in the older age group). Unlike reach, sponsor identification is higher among males (30% versus 21% among women). It must be noted that 60% of those reached were unable to identify the sponsor. As there was virtually no confusion with other brands, this suggests the uniqueness of the spot among beer commercials. While the category is fragmented and can be difficult to break through, revealing the brand at the end of the commercial was perhaps a factor in the slightly lower than expected brand linkage result.

With 68% of those reached liking the commercial very much or somewhat, the result is somewhat below our 74% standard for appreciation. This might explain why brand linkage was lower than our norm: some people might not have liked the streaking and mentally tuned out or clicked to another channel before the end of the commercial.

Appreciation might have also been affected by a perceived lack of clarity of the commercial’s purpose. In comparison to our standard score for ‘confusion,’ 3.4 out of a maximum of 10 points, the execution was rated an average of 4.9 points. The confusion was likely caused by the non-linear approach to the story-telling: the loss of the poker bet in the second half of the commercial explains the streaking shown at the start.

As well, in reviewing the comprehension scores, 56% of those reached by ‘Streak’ were unable to play back any messages. Only 18% of responses were considered ‘astute,’ well below our 45-50% rule of thumb. As with the media plan, the reader must keep in mind that the advertiser has not shared with us the specific communications objectives. Thus, we could have been too stringent in assessing what messages are ‘astute.’

The perceived ambiguousness of the execution’s purpose likely also had an impact in terms of persuasiveness. Compared to our standard score of 5.8 out of 10 points, ‘Streak’ received an average of 4.4 points on this attribute. Moreover, 4% agreed totally that the advertisement would encourage them to buy the brand of beer advertised, below our 15% to 20% rule of thumb. Top-box scores are not significantly different across age and gender groups.

All in all, it appears that people did not seem to make the connection between the impetuousness of the story and its characters, and the spontaneous fun times that Labatt Blue brings to consumers.

Methodology:

From March 9 to 18, 303 Toronto CMA residents were interviewed over the telephone on ‘Streak. ‘Within the sample, we had an even split according to sex and, within each gender group, there was equal representation of two age brackets: 18 to 34 years and 35 to 64 years. The maximum margin of error is +5.6% at a 95% level of confidence.

After measuring unprompted brand and advertising awareness, we prompted recall by describing the visuals.

If the consumer recalled seeing ‘Streak’ as described, we consider him or her ‘reached’ and we then continue the interview to assess other variables such as sponsor identification, message comprehension, appreciation, etc.

To accurately gauge brand linkage, we exclude the name of the sponsor in the commercial’s description. As well, we do not reveal any message cues or the tag line. This allows for the assessment of message comprehension that was formed naturally after exposure to the execution in ‘real life.’