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Celebrity Ads Among Most Memorable of 2011 Oscar Commercials; Listerine Tops List of Most Watched Ads

3 minute read | March 2011

Celebrities brought out their best on the red carpet for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards and they made their mark in the commercials too. The Nielsen Company analyzed the Top Recalled Ads that aired in this year’s show, and four of them included celebrities.

Among the most watched commercials, a Listerine spot with animated Listerine fighters topped the list with 37,715,000 viewers. The most recalled ad was an M&M’s commercial where a criminal threatens to eat an animated M&M hostage in a convenience store holdup.

Nielsen Top Ten Most Watched Ads in the Academy Awards, February 27, 2011
Time of Air (ET) Brand Description # of Viewers (000)
9:08:30 PM Listerine 37715
10:57:28 PM JC Penney 37126
10:23:40 PM Hyundai 36831
10:07:25 PM JC Penney 35947
9:35:15 PM JP Morgan Chase 35653
11:08:27 PM AT&T 35063
9:50:57 PM Diet Coke 34474
9:51:27 PM JC Penney 34474
9:22:01 PM Sprint 33885
9:22:31 PM Hyundai 33885
Source: The Nielsen Company

Although the top 10 recalled ads featured a range of categories and advertisers, from automotives to non-profits, one prominent trend was celebrity ads. Best Buy’s Buy Back Program ad, featuring Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber touting 4G, 5G, and 6G phones, was the strongest celebrity ad in terms of brand recall. Consumers also remembered the Venus brand in a commercial with Jennifer Lopez singing, dancing, and chasing her children on the beach. The American Cancer Society ad featuring Celine Dion singing “Happy Birthday” was the sixth best recalled spot. Adrien Brody also did some singing in a Stella Artois ad, where he left women swooning as he serenaded a beer.

Nielsen Top Ten Ads for Brand Recall in the Academy Awards, February 27, 2011
Rank Brand Ad Description Recall Index
1 M&M’s A criminal threatens to eat candy hostages if demands are not met (:30) 222
2 AT&T Man forgets anniversary and makes a reservation on his phone (:30) 217
3 McDonald’s Ronald McDonald House — Children look for hope inside Happy Meals (:30) 197
4 Best Buy Buy Back Program — Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber present new generations of phones (:30) 191
5 Venus Jennifer Lopez explains how every woman has an inner goddess (:30) 180
6 American Cancer Society Celine Dion sings happy birthday (:30) 142
7 Stella Artois Adrien Brody sings to a beer while women stare and cry (:30) 141
8 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid — People use older versions of technology (:30) 135
9 AT&T 4G — A man throws his friend’s phone from a ski lift (:30) 130
10 Couple dines, goes to a salon, and does tango (:30) 129
Source: The Nielsen Company

Only ad executions from the 2011 Academy Awards considered, excluding movie trailers. The Recall Score is the percentage of TV viewers who can recall within 24 hours the brand of an ad they were exposed to during the normal course of viewing TV. These scores are then indexed against the mean score for all ads during the program (Recall Index). 100 equals average.

For example, with a recall index of 222 the top ranked M&M’s ad has proven to be 2.22 times as memorable as the average 2011 Academy Awards commercial.

Many may have recognized the Best Buy and Stella ads from their premiere in this year’s Super Bowl. These ads performed significantly better with the Oscars crowd than they did in the Super Bowl. The Hyundai Sonata commercial with people using older technologies in the modern world also premiered during the Super Bowl and saw a bump as the eighth most effective spot for the Oscars. was the only brand premiering a new ad during the Oscars to crack the top 10. This spot featured a couple dining, getting a cut at a salon, and taking tango lessons.

Overall, brand recall for this year’s Oscars jumped 9 percent versus last year.

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