A Survey Looks Back on What Consumers Actually Remember

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See full list of 20 Top Spots below

NEW YORK ( -- Showcased celebrities played a major role in two-thirds of the 20 most-remembered TV ads that broke during 2002, according

Monitoring the most remembered TV spots. Visit IAG site.
to the annual Advertising Age/Intermedia Advertising Group consumer survey.

Brand recall
IAG is a market research firm that measures advertising effectiveness by monitoring the television viewing population's ability to recall an ad and its brand within 24 hours after the ad has aired. Throughout the year, IAG monitors all advertising in primetime on six broadcast networks: ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, WB and UPN.

Every two weeks, the latest results of its monitoring are reported in the "Ad Age/IAG Top Spots" feature in "The Week" section of the print edition of Advertising Age.

At year's end, IAG uses the overall

The Toys "R" Us Giraffe spot entitled, "Prank," by Leo Burnett, Chicago, was the most recalled.
Ford's out-of-the-mold 3.5-minute spot produced by J. Walter Thompson, Detroit, caught the public's attention.
The only Super Bowl ad well-remembered was BBDO Worldwide's Britney Spears spot for Pepsi.
data to compile this list of the the ads most remembered by TV viewers across the country.

Toys 'R" Us is tops
The year's number one most remembered ad was Toys "R" Us' "Prank Call" starring Geoffrey the Giraffe. It garnered a brand recall rate about 155% higher than the average spot launched this year. (See below for more detail on recall rates). The Geoffrey ad campaign is the work of Leo Burnett, Chicago.

Two other recent Toys "R" Us Geoffrey ads also placed among the year's top performers. In fact, the only ad packing enough punch to break up the toy retailer's top-of-the-list cluster was a spot for Pepsi Twist, featuring mega-stars Austin Powers and Britney Spears. The Pepsi work was by BBDO Worldwide, New York.

In many cases, 2002 ad effectiveness was rooted in creative consistency and familiarity. Several long-standing campaigns, including efforts from Clairol and Pier 1 Imports, achieved their highest recall of the year with some of their most recent work. Previous exposure to similarly themed ads seems to have fostered brand association in the newer spots.

Only one Super Bowl spot
And interestingly, although the Super Bowl is advertising's ultimate high stakes showcase, recall did not necessarily peak during the event. A Britney Spears Pepsi spot produced by BBDO Worldwide was the only Big Game spot with enough staying power to rank among the top ads of the year.

Overall, the use of celebrities -- human and otherwise -- was the dominant common element of the top spots.

Following that, clever and surprising humor may have propelled recall for Sears in its "rancid milk" spot. An exclusive sponsorship deal brought high brand recognition for the three-minute Ford spots that aired during the 24 premiere.

A unique angle
And sometimes all it takes to cut through the clutter is a unique angle in a conventional category, as evidenced by the ad introducing Discover's keychain credit card that rounded out the Top 20 most-remembered spots of 2002.

The Top 20 Most Remembered Spots -- Jan., 1 to Dec., 15, 2002
Rank Brand Ad Description Recall Index
1 Toys "R" Us Geoffrey prank calls competing toy store, Nikko toys 254
2 Pepsi Twist Austin Powers punches Britney Spears 238
3 Toys "R" Us Geoffrey reads to kids, Big Toy Book 237
4 Toys "R" Us Geoffrey at press conference, Chicken Dance Elmo 235
5 Burger King Black Stack BBQ Griller--Men in Black are back (:15) 235
6 Pier 1 Imports Holiday--Kirstie Alley gives woman "mall-ectomy" 234
7 Old Navy Rugby Bunch--"Brady Bunch" parody, opening credits 233
8 Ford "Make your getaway," post -"24" premiere (:180) 232
9 Clairol Herbal Essences Shampoo--Blonde in shower is into herbs, squeals w/ delight (:15) 232
10 Hanes Michael Jordan in locker room (:15) 231
11 Pepsi Britney Spears, through the years, drive-in (:30) 230
12 Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup--Snowman becomes kid 229
13 KFC Blazin' Strips--Jason Alexander at club (:15) 226
14 Pier 1 Imports 40th Anniversary Sale--Kirstie Alley jumps out of cake 225
15 Sears Washer, dryer, fridge--rancid milk, "Fridge is broken" 224
16 KFC Popcorn Chicken--Barry Bonds bobblehead doll (:30) 224
17 KFC Popcorn Chicken--Free on June 20 224
18 Ford "Start your day," pre-"24" premiere (:180) 223
19 Old Navy Rugby Bunch--Boys playing basketball, girls cheering 219
20 Discover Discover 2GO--People amazed by keychain card 219

The IAG Top 20 Most Effective Ads of 2002 focuses exclusively on new campaigns airing since the start of this year and ranks TV ads based on a viewer's ability to recall the new ads and their associated products/brands. The ranking is derived from the ad's individual recall score and recall index. The recall score is the percentage of television viewers who can recall within 24 hours the brand of the ad they were exposed to during the normal course of viewing television. These scores are then indexed against the mean score for all new ads during the time period (recall index). 100 equals average. For example, with a recall index of 255, the top ranked Toys "R" Us spot has proven more than two and a half times as effective as the average new commercial breaking since Jan. 1.

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