MBPT Spotlight: In Ace Metrix Commercial Humor Index, Volkswagen Tops 2013 List, But On Average, Fed Ex Scores More

Fifteen months ago, Ace Metrix introduced its Funny Index, measuring the commercials TV viewers find most humorous. The report containing that data, titled “Is It Funny Enough?” became the TV analytics company’s second most-popular report, next to “Celebrities in Advertising.”

And when the watching was done and the dust settled for the current grid, a Volkswagen commercial had driven to the top of a list of the more than 7,000 ads from some 1,200 graded brands. That was the verdict this week when Ace Metrix issued its second annual report, covering the funniest ads of 2013.

Volkswagen, along with Doritos and K-Mart, each had two of the top 10 funniest TV ads year-to-date of 2013; however, judging every ad each brand has aired, Fed Ex had the 2013 Top Average Funny Score for all of its commercials combined.

The “Funny Index” adds up consumer responses for ads, seeking a comparison of relative funniness across a dataset through what the folks at Ace Metrix call “a unique and objective method” that adds up how many viewers get a laugh out of various commercials. Resulting “Funny Scores” rate ads on an index: those that are above 100 are funnier than average; those that are below 100 are less funny than average.

And though creating humor can be a serious matter, it’s only one potential element of a successful ad—and it can backfire. As Ace Metrix CEO Peter Dabolt points out, humor can bring attention to a brand, but it is not necessarily the most effective way to sell to consumers.

“Humor is one of the leading devices in advertising, with one in five ads employing it as a strategy,” Dabolt says. “What our data has proven, however, is that funny does not necessarily mean effective.”

The report suggests that funny should be used to supplement—not replace—the message that the creative spot is intending to share.

The Volkswagen commercial that headed the Ace Metrix list as the funniest is titled “Choose Wisely” (featuring a guy who’s about to regret heading on a cross-country drive with the friend of a friend) and was deemed to be more than nine times funnier than the average commercial, scoring a whopping 963 on the index. Scoring second on the list was K-Mart’s “The Easy Life,” which came in with a 920.

Others brands on the funniest TV commercial list in ranking order were: Doritos (“Goat 4 Sale”) which scored a 919; Jack Links (“Sasquatch Throws Woman in Mud,”) with a 913; Doritos (“Fashionista Daddy”) 870; K-Mart (“Ship My Pants”) 869; Volkswagen (“Top Down Day”) 847; Corona Light (“Hunting”) 835; Capital One (“Tighty Whities”) 820; and Dish Network (“Where Now?”) 795.

The two Doritos commercials first aired in this year’s Super Bowl.

Among the 300-plus brands that have aired at least five different ads so far in 2013, FedEx has the highest average Funny Score of 456. The spots promoted the speed and convenience of its service through a series of humorous spots featuring a dentist, a NASCAR driver and a pilfering dad, among others.

Also making the Top 10 in terms of average Funny Score for their total group of commercials are: Jack Links with a Funny Score of 437; Capital One, 429; Cars.com, 405; GEICO, 393; Oscar Mayer, 388; State Farm, 384; Old Spice Soap, 361; Booking.com, 360; and K-Mart, 359.

On an industry basis, the Delivery Services category, which includes Fed Ex, has the highest Funny Score year-to-date with 268; that’s followed by Insurance, which includes GEICO, State Farm and Allstate (248); Candies & Snacks, which includes Doritos and Jack Links (193); Telecommunications (130); Non-Alcoholic Beverages (109); Household (104); Financial (99); Packaged Foods (98); Automotive Services (91); and Alcoholic Beverages (86).

The Delivery Services category this year moved up from second place to first, shifting positions with the Insurance category.

This Ace Metrix report includes TV commercials that have run through Oct. 2, however the company says it plans to continue to grade and rank ads as they air. It also plans to update the current 2013 lists following the end of the fourth quarter.

The Top 10 funniest commercials can be viewed here.