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Purpose and Product create best dressed ads

In this Creative Benchmarking study, we have tested two giant brands in casual fashion wear – An Adidas ad for training shoes and a Levi’s ad with an Equality message.

The verdict: Both ads performed particularly well on brand equity metrics and affinity but despite no explicit calls to action they also prompted readers to seek information, to share information and to purchase.



Stream 1 Ad 2 (Adidas) Stand alone


The Adidas ad clearly employed a Product led marketing approach. The ad looked to communicate the benefits of the brand using a product shot to do the talking. The image is accompanied by Adidas branding and a simple slogan for the the UltraboostX trainer – there’s no mention of pricing, no number to call, no store to visit and no website to visit. First and foremost, Adidas are using a newspaper ad to build a brand’s imagery.


Stream 2 Ad 2 (Levis) Stand alone


These Millennial consumers are wearing Levi’s clothing and there is low profile but explicit Levi’s branding, however the lead message is “We are all equal”; it’s a message of Equality. As with Adidas, there’s no mention of pricing, no number to call, no store to visit and no Levi’s website to visit. With the ad refering to a website to register for your marriage equality vote, Levi’s are clearly also using a newspaper ad to build a brand. As a brand supporting marriage equality, Levi’s is employing purpose led marketing; making a social statement, looking to stand out and to gain loyalty through an emotional connection with their target market.

Strategic RoleMap

Six strategic advertising roles of newspapers have been validated both qualitatively and quantitatively by NewsMediaWorks, resulting in the creation of RoleMap. 


In terms of Strategic role, each ad performed particularly well on brand affinity – 26 per cent agreed that the Adidas ad gave them a good feeling about the brand, whereas 23 per cent said the same of the Levi’s ad. This compares with a benchmark of 9 per cent as an average for all newspaper ads.

“Adidas makes great shoes,” said one respondent on viewing the advertisement.

“I feel proud about it and I love the brand,” said another respondent of the Levi’s ad.

But it was Levi’s that performed significantly above norm on two other strategic metrics. 35 per cent said that the ad raises an important issue/cause, compared to a norm of 10 per cent. Additionally, a strong 18 per cent said that the ad encouraged them to think differently about the brand. This compared to a norm of 8 per cent.


Newspapers are recognised as an effective medium for delivering a Call to Action. ActionMap, another proprietary newspaper metric, expands on this strategic role to provide an understanding of the types of action a newspaper ad inspires. 


Despite no explicit calls to action, both ads performed above the norm on most of the action metrics, but there were some that were significantly above the norm.

Adidas doubled the norms on the 4 metrics of Visiting a store/looking out  for the brand (20%), Searching online for more information (19%), Sharing the information online (6%) and Tearing out the ad to keep (7%).

“The ad leaves some mystery which is likely to encourage people to seek out more information,” mentioned someone regarding the Adidas ad.

Levi’s doubled the norms on the 3 metrics of Buying/trying the brand (12%), Sharing the information online (6%) and Tearing out the ad to keep (6%).

“Excellent advertisement highlighting an important issue – It reinforced my past decisions to buy Levi’s,” said one respondent of the ad.

Brand Perceptions


Both ads performed very well across all 3 metrics of brand perception, Levi’s having the edge on each of them. For example, compared to a benchmark of 25 per cent, among Adidas respondents 42 per cent said the ad made the brand seem different from other brands in the category. While 48 per cent of Levi’s respondents said the same.

“Adidas makes great shoes,” commented one respondent after seeing the ad.

“I really enjoyed the ad – It’s good to see a positive political stance from a big company,” was said of the Levi’s ad.

“The best jeans ever,” said another.


Creative Diagnostics

This NewsMediaWorks’ proprietary newspaper metric, provides a set of creative diagnostics unique to the attributes of newspaper advertising.  They’ve been developed to help identify areas for improvement where results across other brand and advertising measures may require further analysis and interrogation.


On Creative diagnostics, Levi’s sets itself apart from the norm and from Adidas on the metric of “Headline made me want to stop and read more”. At 27 per cent, this compares to a norm of 17 per cent, which was also achieved by Adidas – “We are all equal” got the readers’ attention and provoked an interest.

And both ads performed significantly better than benchmark for Catches the eye and for Looks good.

As illustrations of the latter two metrics, the following comments were all made of the Adidas ad:-

  • “The ad is visually appealing – the image is clear and grabs your attention.”
  • “A great image with everything simple and clear. And there was not too much information to take in.”
  • “It’s clear, concise and the product stands on it’s own merit without trying to be showy.”

While “The photo is quite eye catching and I love the two different messages it refers to,” is one example of what was said of the Levi’s creative.


Newspaper ads have built brand imagery for a Product led advertiser and for a Purpose led advertiser. This has then invoked buyer related activity despite no explicit call to action in either advertisement.


An eye catching product shot, with little additional information, demonstrated that brands can use newspapers to communicate a brand’s essence rather than directly addressing calls to action. Adidas significantly outperformed the brand equity related norms while also making readers feel good about the brand. And despite the fact there was no explicit call to action, the ad doubled the norms for visiting a store to take a look and for seeking more information online – similarly for sharing the information online and keeping the ad.


Levi’s built the brand by nailing its flag to the mast on an important social issue. “We are all equal” made readers want to stop and read more; they acknowledged the ad was raising an important issue with visuals that looked good and caught the eye. Despite risking some polarisation, the ad more than doubled the norm for making readers feel good about the brand – similarly for encouraging them to think differently about the brand. Again, despite no explicit call to action, it also doubled the norms for wanting to buy/try, sharing the information and keeping the ad.


ADvance research conducted online by Ipsos Connect. Fieldwork conducted Nov 2017. Sample aged 18+, based in Sydney, n = 104 for Adidas; based in Melbourne n=104 for Levi’s.

Full details of methodology, Role Map and Action Map available on www.newsmediaworks.com.au.

Ads sourced from Savvy Media Monitoring (www.savvymm.com).

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