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Millennials & Teens Sound Off: What Brand Has the Best Ads?

We asked 1000 13-33-year-olds to tell us what brand they think usually has the best ads. Here are their top ten responses…

“Young consumers are more sensitive than ever to advertisements, and brands have to find innovative solutions to sell their products and services beyond their traditional playbook.”

“In a world saturated with ads, brands have to be creative to capture young consumers’ attention.”

“Millennials and teens are sensitive to ads more than ever.”

…These are all statements that we’ve made about young consumers and marketing—and it’s safe to say that it’s never been harder for a brand’s ads to get noticed. Ypulse research has shown that 46% of 13-33-year-olds say they usually ignore television advertising, 70% say they avoid in-app ads, and 48% are using ad blockers.

Advertising is shifting rapidly to reach them. Some networks are now cutting back on commercials in an attempt to respond to ad-free streaming services, and a reaction to advertisers’ concerns that “their messages are being ignored amid all the commercial clutter.” In 2017, digital ad spending will exceed television for the first time and by 2020 TV spending will fall below one-third of total media dollars. But there are still brands that are breaking through that clutter and grabbing Millennials and teens’ attention. To find out what brands are succeeding in the current cutthroat marketing environment, we asked 1000 13-33-year-olds to tell us what brand they think usually has the best ads.* 

We should note that the generation’s high marketing standards are no myth—over 20% of respondents told us they couldn’t name a brand that has the best ads. One 30-year-old female told us, “I actively avoid ads,” and 21-year-olds male said, “I don’t pay much attention to ads and I don’t even watch much TV.” A 26-year-old female was even more scathing, saying “My feelings on 99% of ads are on a scale from apathy to hatred.” One male respondent gave us a glimpse at how streaming services are impacting advertising reach, telling us, “Netflix doesn’t have ads!”

But of those respondents who could name a top brand, there were two clear winners. Here are the top ten most mentioned brands: 

1. Doritos
2. Budweiser/Bud Lite
3. Geico
4. Coca-Cola
5. Apple
6. Old Spice
7. Pepsi
8. Progressive
9. Snickers
10. Nike

Doritos and Budweiser were neck in neck for the top two spots on the list, and both brands received far more mentions than any other in the top 10.

Doritos edged out Budweiser by a slim margin, and “funny” was one of the most common words used by those who named the brand. Respondents cited Dorito’s commercials’ humor, and it seems that using more out-of-the-box comedy has garnered the brand fans. Many explained they are unexpected, creative, and memorable—one 27-year-old male said,“They’re bizarre and usually go viral because they’re non-traditional.” The brand’s annual fan-submitted commercial campaign is also a huge hit with Millennials, who we’ve found want to be a part of brands’ creative process. Many mentioned the fan involvement in Dorito’s advertisements as a positive: one 29-year-old male told us, “Their ads are very creative, and they engage with the fans. I love that!” and a 26-year-old female explained, “They have pretty memorable, funny ads.  I also think it’s great that they have hosted contests to get fresh ideas from fans.”

Budweiser’s appeal is slightly different. While humor was also mentioned to some extent, words like “heart-warming,” “traditional,” “wholesome,” “uplifting” and “emotional” were also frequently mentioned. The brand’s infamous use of puppies and horses has worked well on a generation looking for moments of uplift. One 28-year-old female told us, “They hit people in the feels, and use cute animals to do it,” and a 25-year-old female explained, “Those darn horses and dogs get me every time.” A 28-year-old male simple said, “Clydesdales and puppies. Need I say more?” The brand’s ability to tell a captivating story in their spots has been noticed and approved by young consumers. One 24-year-old female summed it up: “They tell stories. They are heartfelt and make me feel good.”

Respondents also commented on the variety of commercials that Budweiser releases, saying that the range of tactics used helps them from getting bored. With 74% of Millennials and teens telling us they are bored with advertisements overall, that’s high praise. 

*These were open-end response questions to allow us to capture the full range of Millennials’ favorite ads. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind, and those that are actually most loved. The top 10 list is ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occured.