Exciting as it undoubtedly is, this year’s one-off Adwatch of the
Decade league should not detract from Adwatch of the Year 1999.
As always, Adwatch of the Year records the past 12 months’ most
memorable TV ads. Every week, NOP conducts a telephone poll of 1000
adults to determine the prompted awareness of every new commercial
running on terrestrial television in more than 75% of the UK.
This year, the feature comprises two superleagues, culled from the 50
Adwatch tables that have appeared in Marketing between December 3 1998
and November 25 1999. The first table features percentage recall over
the year, while the second totals the year’s highest individual recall
Inevitably, the first table is partly a measure of media muscle - if a
brand such as BT spends something approaching pounds 85m, that
expenditure is reflected. But there are always a few advertisers whose
performances outstrip their budgets.
Andrex, for example, is reaping the rewards of years of
heartstring-tugging puppy work, an investment which puts it in fourth
place on a spend of only pounds 7.5m. This is a prime example of
long-term branding paying dividends, so that with a relatively small
adspend, a high level of awareness is achieved.
Walkers Crisps, which has featured Gary Lineker in its ads for many
years, is a similar story - although in 1999, its first full year with
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, it has fallen from fourth to ninth place (and
from joint first to joint fourth in the second table).
Another remarkable performance comes from Somerfield which, despite an
unsettled year - its account moved from RPM3 to Leo Burnett to
McCann-Erickson, and is under review again - has managed to cling on to
eighth place with a minuscule budget of pounds 1.4m.
Meanwhile, the relentless marketing march of the mobile phone industry
reached new peaks: collectively, Orange, One 2 One and Vodafone spent
over pounds 100m, putting all three brands in the top 20 for the first
Overall, however, budget levels are similar to, or down on, last year,
with some brands making big budget cuts - including BT, whose 1999
budget was almost pounds 50m less than last year. BT’s total recall
figures are also lower; in 1998, its work scored 19,449 responses, as
opposed to 12,918 this year.
The lower 1999 scores brings McDonald’s significantly closer to the
number one slot, although its own overall recall figures are also down
by 3000 on 1998.
New entrants in this year’s highest recall over the year table are B&Q,
One 2 One, Orange, SkyDigital, Homebase, Vodafone and British Gas, which
have replaced Oil of Olay, Nescafe, Fairy Liquid and three top retail
names - Woolworths, Boots and Safeway.
The highest individual recall figures are down for the fourth year
running: in 1996, the top percentage was 96%; in 1997, it was 94%; and
last year, it was 88%. This year, BT only needed to reach 86% to hang on
to its number one slot for the third consecutive year. This general
decline may be a result of more campaigns spreading across
Highest individual recalls reveal fewer surprises than previous years,
although, as usual, some brands have done particularly well. The
following are some of the more remarkable campaigns.
The National Lottery
Five years after launching the lottery, and with its licence review
looming, Camelot is suffering a downturn in profits and ticket sales.
Yet its new advertising, through WCRS, has achieved great saliency
throughout the year, with a realistic approach and its ’Maybe, just
The ad strategy has changed to fit the lottery’s status as a mature
brand, with a new focus on playing benefits, sustaining participation
and a portfolio of associated games. These include the lottery itself,
Lottery Instants, Thunderball and the Big Draw 2000.
Although the best-remembered commercial of 1999 was for ’Winning
Wallets’, many different commercials were running at the same time, all
unified by the National Lottery logo.
Its high recall figure undoubtedly reflects Camelot’s increased budget
commitment (more than double last year’s figure) across all its
B&Q, making its Adwatch of the Year debut, is one of 1999’s most
interesting case histories. Bates UK has handled the account for 16
years and has been using the ’You can do it if you B&Q it’ tagline for
five of those years.
But a year ago, marketing director Stephen Robertson quadrupled the
advertising budget and shifted money out of print and into TV ads. The
decision was taken after econometric tests revealed that B&Q’s TV
advertising has an immediate effect on sales.
The commercial which scored particularly highly last month was for a
Garden Vac, but there is no doubt that B&Q’s success is down to
consistency and weight of message across the 85 different executions
created by Bates UK in 1999.
The ads focused on four main areas: new products, value pricing,
projects and own-label products. With a break-blitzing media strategy,
combined with the famous tagline, the familiar apron mnemonic and
employee presenters, the campaign became a regular 1999 Adwatch
As DIY becomes increasingly popular, B&Q outperformed a buoyant
Its sales were up by 19% in the six months from February to July, while
its market share rose by 2% over the year, to give it almost one-fifth
of the total DIY retail market.
Since 1992, the number of British households without a TV licence has
fallen from 10% to just 6% - each per cent represents pounds 20m lost to
the BBC. This year, with a heavily increased budget, TBWA GGT Simons
Palmer continued its ’Consequences’ campaign which, for the past 18
months, has targeted people who ’put off’ paying their licence. The ads
stress how stupid people feel when they are fined and have to forego
dream holidays, car renovations or, in the case of this top-scoring
film, their mobile phone.
’Cut Off’, which broke in the summer, showed a woman racing to pick up a
call in a public phone box because she had relinquished her mobile phone
to cover her fine. As she misses her call, she collapses against the
phone box and a passer-by, assuming she is a down-and-out, throws her a
few coins. The commercial was particularly effective in reaching younger
people, who form the bulk of non-payers, and for whom the mobile phone
is an essential status symbol.
The Christmas campaign against drink-driving is an Adwatch of the Year
regular. Last year’s advertising, the first from AMV BBDO, comprised 18
different commercials which ran for a month over the Christmas
Each recreated a real accident and used the voices of real emergency
personnel explaining, in dispassionate, ’professional’ terms, the
devastating consequences of the accident.
The line, ’Don’t drink and drive: don’t drink and die’ was aimed at all
motorists, but particularly the 17- to- 24 age group. Although 11% more
drink-drive tests were conducted last Christmas, there was a fall of 22%
in drivers who tested positive.
In its six years as a major TV advertiser, the Guernsey-based Specsavers
optical chain has been the only Adwatch regular to create its
advertising in-house. Marketing director Andrew Molle, formerly of
Homebase, chose the in-house route because he wanted ads created by a
team totally dedicated to Specsavers.
That 14-strong team creates frequent brand-building messages, as well as
the occasional blockbuster, to stress Specsavers’ professionalism.
It was one of those blockbusters which, in May, scored 76% in
The film showed physicist Stephen Hawking, in only his second
advertising appearance, reflecting on the importance of his eyesight as
he travels on a dream-like journey through space.
Specsavers’ advertising strategy is paying off: the chain has not only
succeeded in shaking up the market, but now claims a commanding lead
among optical chains, with its share of new consumers well above the
Top-performing agencies and media buyers
Overall, 1999 will not go down as a vintage year for AMV BBDO. In
Adwatch, however, the Marylebone Road Mob triumphs yet again as
top-performing agency, with an even better performance than last year -
despite losing its Sainsbury’s TV work. Its 1999 advertising, most
notably on mega-brands such as BT and Walkers, earned AMV BBDO 106
Adwatch mentions, 24 more than last year.
J Walter Thompson, with Andrex, Boots and Kellogg under its belt, shoots
up to second from sixth, while Leo Burnett and Publicis are in third and
fourth place respectively. Out this year are McCann-Erickson and Ogilvy
& Mather, to be replaced by WCRS and two agencies currently in the
throes of a merger, Lowe Howard-Spink and Ammirati Puris Lintas.
In the world of TV buying, Leo Burnett’s revamped media operation has
lived up to its new name, Starcom, by putting in a five-star
performance, with 114 mentions through work for blue-chip clients such
as McDonald’s and Procter & Gamble. Hot on its heels are Zenith and
MindShare, heading a table largely comprised of what used to be known as
’media dependents’ - agency-owned buying operations.
Yet although merger fever dominates the scene, Adwatch of the Year 2000
could well be a watershed league, dominated by a string of new agency
and buying names. Stay tuned.
Agency Number of mentions
Abbott Mean Vickers BBDO 106
J Walter Thompson 67
Leo Burnett 66
Saatchi & Saatchi 54
Bates UK 52
BMP DDB 43
Lowe Howard-Spink 40
Grey Advertising 37
Ammirati Puris Lintas 37
HIGHEST RECALL OVER THE YEAR
1 1 BT Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/
The Allmond Partnership 12,918 83.67
2 2 McDonald’s Leo Burnett/Starcom 12,131 40.51
3 B&Q Bates UK/Zenith Media 9826 26.43
4 9 Andrex J Walter Thompson/MindShare 9677 7.50
5 3 Asda Publicis/Carat 9624 22.90
6 17 Tesco Lowe Howard-Spink/
Western International Media 6252 27.80
7 18 Sainsbury’s Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
and M&C Saatchi/New PHD 5743 48.83
8 8 Somerfield RPM3, Leo Burnett and
McCann-Erickson/Universal McCann 5587 1.42
9 4 Walkers Crisps Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/MediaVest 5290 5.23
10 One 2 One Bartle Bogle Hegarty/Motive 5109 46.67
11 15 Iceland Tom Reddy, HHCL & Partners/
Carat Manchester, MediaCom TMB 4869 12.46
12 19 National Lottery WCRS/BMP OMD 4773 16.70
13 11 Burger King Ammirati Puris Lintas/Carat 4566 10.69
14 12 Specsavers In-house/CIA Medianetwork 4453 15.08
15 Orange WCRS/Mediapolis 4219 38.01
16 5 Coca-Cola Edge Creative, Publicis,
Wieden & Kennedy/Universal McCann 4132 14.72
17 SkyDigital In-house/Universal McCann 4124 25.04
18 Homebase Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/New PHD 3428 20.27
19 Vodafone BMP DDB/BMP OMD 3143 28.51
20 British Gas BMP DDB/BMP OMD 2950 32.18
BEST RECALL IN ANY SINGLE WEEK
99 98 Brand Agency/TV buyer Score Issue Budget
(% date (pnds
1 1= BT AMV BBDO/
The Allmond Partnership 86 11/3/99 83.67
2 10 Asda Publicis/Carat 83 18/11/99 22.90
3 4= McDonald’s Leo Burnett/StarCom 82 24/6/99 40.51
4= 3 National
Lottery WCRS/BMP OMD 81 23/9/99 16.70
4= B&Q Bates UK/Zenith 81 4/11/99 26.43
4= 1= Walkers
Crisps AMV BBDO/MediaVest 81 18/2/99 5.23
tablets J Walter Thompson/
Initiative Media 79 23/9/99 10.97
8= Tesco Lowe Howard-Spink/
Western International Media 78 28/10/99 27.80
licensing TBWA GGT Simons Palmer/
New PHD 78 26/8/99 7.34
driving AMV BBDO/MediaVest 77 28/1/99 1.70
10= 11= Nescafe McCann-Erickson/
Universal McCann 77 4/11/99 25.91
10= 18 Vodafone BMP DDB/BMP OMD 77 14/1/99 28.51
13= Orange WCRS/Mediapolis 76 28/10/99 38.01
13= 7= Sky Digital In-house/Universal McCann 76 10/12/98 25.04
13= Specsavers In-house/CIA Medianetwork 76 20/5/99 15.08
13= One 2 One Bartle Bogle Hegarty/
Motive 76 28/10/99 46.67
13= HSBC Lowe & Partners Worldwide/
New PHD 76 29/7/99 7.37
18= 4= Andrex J Walter Thompson/
MindShare 75 25/3/99 7.50
Thunderball WCRS/BMP OMD 75 1/7/99 6.51
18= Iceland HHCL & Partners/
MediaCom TMB 75 28/10/99 12.46
TOP MEDIA AGENCIES
Buyer Number of mentions
Zenith Media 105
Universal McCann 75
BMP OMD 68
Initiative Media 60
New PHD 54
The Allmond Partnership 41
This article was first published on Marketing