Blog Tom Mabon – Client Consultant


Brands using celebrities in advertising is an established principle.  In more recent times it’s been Sky Q partnering with Idris Elba or Vodafone using Martin Freeman, but people of my generation will remember Bob Hoskins gruffly reminding us that “It’s good to talk”, in a style of delivery now only used by Ray Winstone when telling us the latest half-time odds.

We have intrinsic associations with some celebrities, and it’s this that brands try to leverage in the hope that the associations from that celebrity are then transferred to the brand.  Think Virgin Media using the fastest man in the world to talk about their broadband, or EE using the most connected man in Hollywood to talk about their connection quality.

Advertising best practice dictates that these celebrities are consistently used in long term advertising campaigns, to the point where the brand and the celebrity become synonymous with each other.  Byron Sharp would refer to them at this point, as a distinctive asset.

It’s perhaps unsurprising then, that when Ideal Boilers announced an advertising partnership with early noughties boyband Blue, the story spread like wild fire.  A quick Google search returns 19,000 results alone.  If the partnership’s purpose was that of creating a buzz, then it’s a complete success.  However, if there’s meant to be some alignment between the brand and the band then I’m slightly more confused.  But then again, I don’t understand how meerkats sell insurance.

The result of this partnership – their 30 second tv spot – recently hit our screens and marks Ideal Boilers’ first real foray into above the line consumer marketing; a bold step away from their usual B2B focus. Putting the advert through our DVJ Insights’ copy-test tool overnight, unveiled some interesting results.


When asked to list the most appealing elements of the advert, Blue unsurprisingly make the list. In third place. Behind the dog, and the boiler itself.


The two most fundamental measures to judge an advert on are unaided brand recall, and message clarity.  Nail these, and you’ve got an advert that will increase sales.  Perform poorly on these, and your advert simply won’t cut through the clutter.

The results from DVJ Inisghts’ test showed the unaided brand recall was 25%, which puts it in the bottom quintile when compared to the benchmark of UK adverts. In fact, that’s towards the bottom of the bottom quintile.  This is perhaps not unsurprising given the circumstances.  In a sector where brand names aren’t really known to many consumers, the sales are driven by recommendations from the experts.  This advert was the first time many would have heard of the brand, and there’s no established distinctive assets for the brand to use as signposts through the advert to reinforce the branding.  However, the client and the creative agency would have known about these hurdles in advance, so we can’t completely paint this in whitewash.  I always encourage brands to aim to be in the top quintile for results against the benchmark, as those ads require 300 fewer GRPs than average creatives.  Being in the bottom quintile, launch advert or not, highlights branding issues.

Interestingly though, it’s not all bad news on the unaided brand recall front.  When looking at perceived message clarity results come in at 65%, which is slightly above average, but nowhere near the top quintile.  What’s interesting about this though, is when asked about what that message was, what comes back are “ideal”, “boilers”, “find”, “good”, and “match”.  So the message does land, and it inadvertently contains the brand name.  It just needs to be tightened up so that more than 65% of people know what the hell is going on.

On a more positive note, the advert completely excels in the engagement metrics.  85% were still engaging with the advert after 10 seconds, whilst 76% were still watching the advert right at the very end.  I know major, experienced advertisers that would kill for that score.  There is absolutely no doubt, that by hook or by crook, they’ve made a very watchable advert.  Not only that, but it also ranks in the top quintile for shareability, meaning that not only will people watch it all the way through, but once they have, they’re going to send it to their friends and family.  Which would be incredible, if only more than 65% of them understand what’s happening.

Given what we know so far, other metrics perform as you would expect.  It pulls out strongly on measures such as humour, having a good energy, and being enjoyable to watch.  It performs appallingly on brand fit, credibility, and understanding.  Hardly surprising if people don’t know who the brand is, or what it is they’re selling. Combine this data with the output from the moment to moment tool, and the story about an underperforming advert missing the mark is enhanced. The moment to moment tool is where every second of the advert is rated positively or negatively by the consumers. The results were incredibly flat, with only a small positive spike as Blue enter the fray.

The qualitative elements also uncover some fascinating insights. When asked to list the most appealing elements of the advert, Blue unsurprisingly make the list. In third place. Behind the dog, and the boiler itself. To be clear, the boiler was more appealing than Blue.  I was not totally shocked then to see that the top 3 least appealing elements of the advert were “singing”, “band”, and “Blue”.  While our moment to moment analysis wasn’t particularly positive, except for a minor uplift after blue came in.

So, it’s fair to say that Blue are a bit of advertising marmite – but love them or hate them, their sense was distinctive and memorable, in an advert that people wanted to watch and would share with their friends.  Perhaps then, this advert should be viewed as the start of the journey for Ideal Boiler.  A long term tie in with Blue executed via an always on strategy would see the band start to become a distinctive asset for them, and branding scores begin to increase in line with share of voice and share of market.  Or maybe to avoid wear out in future campaigns, they can branch out to include other early noughties boybands.  I for one would love to see the Black Friday deals advertised by Another Level, whilst the Christmas spectacular could feature A1.