Study Finds Woolies’ Ads Have More Brand Recognition Than Coles’ Ads

Study Finds Woolies’ Ads Have More Brand Recognition Than Coles’ Ads
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine



According to a new advertising analysis from Forethought, Woolworth’s “Today’s Fresh Food People” campaign is more effective for brand recognition than coles’ “Together to Zero” ad. 

The latest Woolworths campaign produced by M&C Saatchi is distinctly on brand – The focus on freshness and quality,  the use of the colour of green, the classic Woolie’s jingle playing and a slightly reimaged slogan,  new but not unfamiliar,  “Today’s Fresh Food People.” Meanwhile, Forethought found that Cole’s latest ad didn’t use key brand assets creating confusion for consumers.

Woolworths isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel rather it focuses on what it has already built it which creates brand recognition, while Coles seems to be trying something new.

New analysis from Forethought, which was not commissioned by either brand, tested the application of distinctive assets in advertising, using a set of de-branded stills from the commercial as a stimulus. The results prove the necessity of leveraging distinctive brand assets, with close to 9 in 10 Australian consumers connecting the Woolworths ad to its brand following a test.

The study demonstrated that the consistent deployment of the uniquely ‘Woolies’ brand assets mentioned above throughout the ad registered with consumers – achieving what all good advertising should do – connected the audience to the correct brand.

To conduct and contextualise the ad test, Forethought examined Woolworths’ latest commercial, in comparison with Coles’ advertising, they both launched at the same time (Aug 2021).

Distinctive brands assets enable an ad to be recognised and linked to its origin. It’s advertising 101.  For example, the YES logo for Optus. If Australians were just shown the stylised YES logo, 95 per cent spontaneously recognise it as an Optus ad.

The Coles ad lacks distinctive brand assets causing a very large proportion of the prospective audience to misattribute the origin.

Coles’ “Together to Zero” commercial emphasised their commitment to and encouragement of environmentally sustainable practices, reaffirming ambitious targets to reduce CO2 emissions and “to become Australia’s most sustainable supermarket”.

The research found that the latest anthemic brand advertising campaigns from Australia’s two leading supermarket chains, which differ markedly in the degree to which they utilise branded cues, yielded significantly different results following Forethought’s test of consumer recognition and recall.

To test the effectiveness of both the Woolworths and Coles TV ads (ie. their likelihood to be recognised, associated with the brand in question and recalled), Forethought showed a representative sample of 800 Australian consumers de-branded stills taken from each advertisement, pictured below.

It was a concern that showing frames rather than the full advertisement excluding branding would have disadvantaged the Woolworths ad, because their highly recognisable audio asset/jingle could not be included in the stimulus (and this was identified prior to the study as a potential limitation).

However, the strong utilisation of other distinctive Woolworths brand assets overcame this hurdle, with the commercial scoring very high on both recognition and brand association.

After viewing the stimulus, respondents were then asked a series of questions associated with recognition and recall.

The results demonstrated the depth of Woolworths’ successful utilisation of their distinctive brand assets: Despite the spots being de-branded during the test, the results are in stark contrast to one another with the Woolworths ad clearly and significantly outperforming the Coles ad on correct brand association.

The Woolworths stimulus was correctly linked to the Woolworths brand for the clear majority at 88.8 per cent, with 1.2 per cent misattributing the ad to its main competitor and only 7.5 per cent unsure who was behind the advertising.

By contrast, the Coles stimulus proved more difficult for consumers to match to Coles at only 20.9 per cent (with 7.2 per cent misattributing the ad to its main competitor and, of probably far greater concern, was the 59.8 per cent of consumers who were unable to determine which brand was behind the ad).

Using an array of distinctive brand assets such as colour, gingham check uniform and images of ‘on message’ produce – the Woolworths ad proved to be strongly effective at driving brand recognition, with close to 9 in 10 consumers recognising and associating the piece correctly with the brand.

Forethought, Global CEO, Darren Stein said: “Woolworths’ consistent and clever use of distinctive assets and recognition triggers were clearly rewarded as shown by the results in the study.

“Their success on this occasion is also amplified by the relatively weaker results from their major competitor. This is an evidence-based reminder that the use of distinctive assets, nurtured over time can produce stunning results, not only against newcomers invading an established category but also as is the case here, in the largest, longest-standing and most competitive of marketing arenas”.




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