According to a recent study, ads that show surprised emotions saw a 360% jump in performance from start of the pandemic, while “calm” ads performed 156% better than prior to the pandemic, as measured by purchase rate after exposure. Ads taking place outdoors saw a 60% increase in effectiveness, while “indoors” and “happy” ads saw an approximately 60% dip in effectiveness.

Source: Marketing Dive

Our take

This study, carried out by creative analytics firm VidMob, shows us drastic changes in the way customers respond to advertising in the time of COVID-19. Unsurprisingly, many are finding it hard to relate to cheerful messaging, and prefer to see outdoor settings in their ads while spending so much at home. However, the 360% jump in performance for ads that surprise viewers indicates that people are paying attention to messaging that breaks the monotony of life during the pandemic. This approach could prove successful in giving audiences a reprieve from the slew of “reassuring” ads on television, while providing a curious and stand-out alternative.

As an example, Brownstein’s recent spot for TruGreen, which launched in March, effectively used surprise to grab the attention of viewers and deliver a strong punchline.

In the first spot, a couple comes to a sudden halt while walking on the sidewalk as the camera zooms in on their puzzled expressions. “Greg are you seeing this?” The woman asks. The eerie music builds until the camera cuts to a green lawn, where several aliens are busy inspecting the grass — their mothership hovering just above them.

“I have never seen…” she continues as the tension peaks and the music stops, “such a gorgeous lawn!”
Watch the video below: