Still from Facebook COVID-19 Ad

Top Brands’ COVID-19 Thank-You Ads Struggle to Resonate with Women

Key Takeaways: 

  • 1. Sentimental thank-you ads from big brands have become ever-present on U.S. TV. 

  • 2. Compared to the average of all TV ads, those from big brands engage men at levels on par with industry average, though perform less so with women. 

  • 3. The most engaging ads tend to include heartfelt narratives and textual elements that score higher for sentiment, and included Budweiser and Walmart. 

  • 4. Brand leaders should test video creative early and often, especially during times of crisis, to ensure ads are tonally relevant across different segments including age and gender. 


COVID-19 Thank-You Ads From Big Brands Struggle to Resonate with Women 

As consumer sentiment continues to shift in response to COVID-19, the world’s largest brands have pivoted to TV ads that connect emotionally with audiences rather than sell products.  

Among the latest sentimental messaging strategies is advertising that says “thank you” to “heroes” like emergency responders and essential frontline employees. But compared to the average of all TV ads, these thank-you videos perform below average when it comes to attention and emotional response among U.S. viewers.  

That’s according to an emotion-detection analysis of recent thank-you ads from eight of the world’s largest advertisers, including Amazon, Budweiser, Facebook, Google, Nike, Verizon, Volkswagen and Walmart. The Realeyes engagement score for the category of thank-you ads was 31, compared to an average of 50 among all 26,000 videos  in the Realeyes database 

Realeyes uses front-facing cameras on Internet devices to passively measure the attention and emotional response of opt-in viewers of video and digital experiences. The  Realeyes  Score  is an indicator of brand equity, factoring in a video’s ability to generate and sustain viewer interest, achieve a strong emotional moment, and establish a lasting positive impression. The  Realeyes score is an index ranging from 0 to 100. 

Probing further, the overall Realeyes score was weighed down heavily by women. Female viewers had a Realeyes score of 21, while males had a score of 52, slightly above the norm for all videos ads. Women are more attentive to thank-you ads, though demonstrate far less emotional response. 

Age played less of a role in engagement to thank-you ads. People age 34 and under had a Realeyes score of 42, while people age 35 and above had a Realeyes score of 40. 


Budweiser & Walmart Deliver Most Engaging Thank-You Ads 

The most engaging thank-you ad was Budweiser’s One Team, which achieved a Realeyes score of 43 and among the most positive sentiment. However, this video resonated mostly with males with a Realeyes score of 72, versus 25 for females. It was notable for a narrative that earned higher and higher attention with each passing second, as the imagery evolved from weighty scenes of emergency frontline workers to quaint scenes of happy people, inviting homes and community.  

The second most engaging thank-you ad was Walmart’s Heroes, with a Realeyes score of 43. It was the only ad that featured pop music, “Heroes” by David Bowie, and featured the company’s CEO. Other ads featured pensive piano or synthesizer string music.  

According to Google Sentiment, the top four performing ads featured narratives (transcript and text overlays) that were slightly more positive (64% versus +59%, on a scale of 0% to 100% where 50% is neutral). The two top performing ads, from Budweiser and Walmart, had textual sentiment scores of 70% and 65%, respectively. 


Mandate: Brands Must Test Messaging Resonance Across Segments  

This comparative media study underscores how different viewer segments, including gender, respond emotionally in different ways. Brand leaders must test their content early and often, especially during a crisis, when consumer sentiment may be evolving or more sensitive. Leaders must understand how ads are resonating tonally, because one misstep could damage brand image and erase years of positive equity 

Pretesting is always critical to predict in-market performance, including video completion rates, and to understand which creative elements drive brand perception. During a crisis, leaders also should retest old ads to ensure they still are resonant and will do no harm in the moment they are run. 

Are you dialed into the pulse of your brand? 

Realeyes  Emotion AI 
Corporate Thank-You Advertisements During Covid-19 
Ranked By Realeyes  Score
U.S. May 6, 2020 
Advertiser Spot Celebrated Audience  Realeyes Score


Thank You Ads Category  - - - -
Budweiser Budweiser | One Team 




Walmart Heroes




Nike Play for the World | You Can’t Stop Us




Volkswagen  Thank You | Volkswagen 




Google Thank You Healthcare Workers 




Amazon Thank You Amazon Heroes 




Verizon Thanks to Verizon Employees | We're Here and We're Ready | Coronavirus (COVID-19) 




Facebook App We're never lost if we can find each other. 

Responders, Users 



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