Skip to content

ABX measures ads across all media types in the U.S. and internationally reaching geographical areas representing 90% of global media spend. This post is a part of our systematic review of good and bad ads for 2022 by Media Type. Today’s post selects Five Bottom-Scoring Print Ads out of 10,000 measured by ABX in 13 countries. If you are interested in testing or learning more about Print creative testing, contact us HERE.

What Went Wrong in Five Lowest-Scoring International Ads

Looking at bottom-scoring ads out of 10,000 in 13 countries is a sobering exercise. In every case, it’s easy to see what is wrong with the ads, but gauging how much damage they have done to the reputations of their brands cannot be understood without ad effectiveness testing.

The ABX Index Scores could have clued-them-in the day after these ads appeared in-market on the ABX Global Syndicated Multimedia and Multichannel Dashboard, which would have allowed these brands to pull them out of circulation. Since very few print ads are pre-tested, using a syndicated service is more efficient and less expensive for ad remediation.

The Second of a Two-Part Print Analysis

This post is the second part of our Top and Bottom-Scoring Print Advertising series for 2022. To see the first part, “The Five Top-Scoring Print Ads of 2022,” click HERE. This initial post covers the Print Advertising Industry forecast as well as research showing the power of Creative in making Print equally effective to any other media type, and the specific benefits of print.

According to Gardner’s Business Media, combining print (especially magazine) and digital ads will make online campaigns 400% more effective (Top Media Advertising, n.d.).

Bottom-Scoring Global Print Ads for 2022

The ads featured below are among the bottom 2% of almost 10,000 ads measured by ABX from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States. These ads were chosen mainly by scores, but also by educational value.

  • Gucci – ABX Index of 19 – Elle – JAPAN

Hailing from Japan, this sad little ad with an ABX Index of 19 against an overall Ad Effectiveness Norm of 100; a Category Norm of 74; and a Media Norm of 83, illustrates how “being too cool for comprehension” doesn’t quite work. This ad was part of an international campaign with similar ads that also scored extremely low: in the U.K. – Four ads scoring 28, 31, 33 and 34; in Germany (one ad scoring 31); and in Japan (five ads in addition to the one above at 22, 32, 34, 37 and 39).

This series of ads badly hurt Gucci’s Reputation with an ABX Index of Zero. The ABX Gender Equality Index™ scores for both the men and women featured were in the far negative range, and the ad below had a spectacular Dislike score of 436!

Now, we DO get it. This ad was only meant for fashionistas who probably know Gucci’s style even without a clear Brand logo (see if you can find it!), Benefit (“maybe” coolness?) or Value (none). But even Millennials scored the ad at 31; GenX at 42; and Boomers at 3. Bottom line, this approach is ego-centric to the point of non-comprehension. Ouch.

  • Netflix – ABX Index of 37 – Regio7 – SPAIN

In this ad, Netflix is advertising, Iñigo, l’home rere el Sant, a major production for its Subscription Video Series, but who knew? Advertised in Regio7, a regional newspaper in Spain, the ad is probably legible in a two-page spread. Even so, there’s so much text and a virtually unrecognizable photograph (a woman’s chest), with no benefit message, the so scores below make sense. We also did a Google search of the logo shown in the ad and matched it to the branding of Netflix in Spain. Nowhere was the logo below to be found. Once again, we see an ad scoring Zero in Reputation, and Dislike has a very high score of 341.

  • DS Automobiles – ABX Index of 37 – RED – UNITED KINGDOM

Look at the gorgeous graphics in this four-page travel advertorial spread in RED, a UK magazine full of real-life fashion, beauty, and inspirational lifestyle pieces. Great title, “La Vie En Roads.” Descriptions of fabulous travel destinations and things to see. However, DS Automobiles, the advertiser, seems barely visible in small text by a couple of photos of the DS 7 Crossback E-Tense, which are included along with travel venues and things to do. Even in full-page magazine format, few figured out the Brand (Awareness 41) or the Message (38), or intended to take any Action at all (56). Again, Reputation scored Zero – and the full ABX Report shows a Dislike score of 257.

  • IG (Active Trader Online Services) – ABX Index of 39 – DER AKTIONÄR– GERMANY (AND UK)

The Google Translation for this ad is: “Still analogue? Rely on our powerful and innovative trading platform when trading. (At bottom: “Every trade involves risk. 79% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.”)

We were convinced this translation couldn’t be correct until we saw a very similar ad and message for IG in the UK that scored 38. Sure enough, both ads cite very high percentages (79% in Germany, and 66% in the UK) of customers who LOSE money with this provider. Since the ad below ran in DER AKTIONÄR, Germany’s leading stock market magazine and the number one compulsory newspaper for all private investors, it is safe to assume such disclaimers are mandated.

The graphics and first line of the German ad also seems insulting (“still analog?”) with child-like graphics depicting an abacus and cell phone, and even though the “IG” is prominent, Brand Awareness is only 51, Message is 35 and Reputation is Zero. Perhaps it’s not a good idea to advertise a failing product.

  • Amazon – ABX Score of 43 – Grazia Fashion Magazine – Italy

This Amazon 6-page promotional spread in Grazia had definite potential with its pretty pictures. Problem is: the advertiser’s logo doesn’t show up until the bottom of Page 6, so Brand Awareness was at 40 and Message was 45, both wreaking havoc on both Reputation and Action scores. The ABX Gender Equality Index® for the female model is also well below the norm of 100 at 88, with sub-scores showing respondents did not think the model was Presented Well, Respectfully or as a Role Model. The overall spread is colorful and relatively fun, but the awkward poses likely contributed to those scores. Once again, Dislike scored a very high 296. Apparently, the headline, “Wearing the Future” (Indossare il Futuro) with no clear branding or value-add didn’t work so well.

What can we Learn from this?

  • Take care not to “assume” your brand is so important that “everyone” automatically knows what it is. Without clear identification of the brand, budgets are completely wasted.
  • Try to cut down on copy in ads with too much information to clearly convey only the most relevant facts and try to use text that is legible and clear.
  • Remember to make a case for your product in your ad message, to convey a clear value to the audience. Don’t assume they know what it is solely from an announcement.
  • Advertorials can be great deals, but the devil is in the details. Make sure to negotiate prominent placement of your brand logo and product photos. And make very sure the advertorial tells a story that relates to your product message.
  • Be aware that low-cost, simplistic graphics and messages that are potentially insulting to your audience will backfire.
  • Finally, for fashion spreads, use a diverse set of models, make sure poses are flattering, and always put your logo clearly on the first page and repeat on subsequent pages.

ABX hopes this 2022 Print Top and Bottom-Scoring series of Print Ads has been helpful.

For more information: Diane Light Waight, VP Business Development HERE.

Written by: Angela Jeffrey, VP Brand Management, ABX