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The Brands Whose COVID-19 Ads Generated The Most Positivity Around The World

Navigating the post-COVID landscape poses a serious challenge for advertisers. And with a recent survey suggesting that two-thirds of consumers say how brands respond to the pandemic will have a “huge impact” on their likelihood to buy their products and services in the future, the stakes could not be higher for brands.

For advertisers looking to engage consumers during the pandemic, making sure their messaging hits home has never been more important. Some global brands have managed to create COVID messages that have resonated strongly with their respective audiences.

But which ads have generated the most positivity around the globe? Well, we have created a ranking of the most emotionally engaging coronavirus campaigns in the world.

We created the chart using our emotional testing and targeting tool, UnrulyEQ to see which global ads are generating the most intense levels of positivity in their respective regions.

To account for differences in how people express themselves emotionally around the world, ads were ranked using Unruly’s EMO Index, which measures the intensity of emotions an ad generated compared to the territory average.

Here are the key findings:

1 – An ad from Google Japan is most emotionally engaging COVID ad in the world

Google Japan’s “Thank You” campaign finished top after attracting the most intense emotions of any coronavirus creative. The ad is three times more emotional than the average Japanese ad.

That put it ahead of an ad from the Singapore government (“Together We Can”) and Tourism Australia’s “Love” in second and third places respectively, with ads from Air Asia, Prudential and Colgate also making the top 10.

Although dominated by ads tested in APAC, three UK ads make it into the top 10, with ITV’s “Apart. But Never Alone”, featuring celebs Gordon Ramsay and Davina McCall urging people to stay at home, finishing fourth ahead of the NHS’ “Stay At Home” and Jack Daniels’ “With Love, Jack”.

Another ad from Google — “Thanks Healthcare” — is the only US campaign to make it into the top 10. The highest-ranked German ad is BfG’s “Danke” in 20th.

Unruly’s Global Chart Of Most Emotionally Engaging Coronavirus Campaigns

2 – It’s a surprise result

For an ad from Japan to appear at the top of the chart is a surprise. After testing thousands and thousands of video ads over the last decade we’ve seen a number of distinct patterns emerge in how individual markets respond to videos.

Consumers in the Philippines, for instance, are far more likely to emotionally engage with a video advertisement than viewers in the US, who in turn are more likely to be emotional than German consumers.

However, one country that consistently finds itself at the bottom of our emotional world rankings is Japan. The level of emotional response in Japan is typically 50% lower than the global average, which is why it’s surprising to see Google Japan’s “Thank You” video stand out as the strongest performer when compared to 51 other COVID-19 related video advertisements. But after watching the video it is easy to see why it finished at the top.

Throughout the first half of the ad’s minute-long run-time, there is a focus on all of the work that healthcare workers are doing to help others, while the second half showcases the public’s appreciation of them.

The whole ad is comprised of footage shot on mobile phones and captured from video calls, which creates an aura of authenticity and amplifies the sense of empowerment generated by the video’s structure and content.

This is shown in the results, as 83% of viewers considered Google to be an empowering brand after watching the ad, a score that is 34% higher than the Japanese norm. Google was also able to ensure its branding was present during the moments of peak emotion without interrupting the flow of the ad via the inclusion of a distinctive search bar overlay.

This allowed Google to show how its services were being used to help others during the crisis in a way that doesn’t appear exploitative. This all came together in a video which drove benchmark-beating levels of amazement, warmth and pride.

3 – Pride is a key emotion

Although the intense emotions of amazement, warmth and pride evoked in response to the Google: Thank You video are rare for Japanese ads, they are very common among ads that address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pride is also a key response in another top performer: Tourism Australia: Love.


At a time when international travel is limited, Tourism Australia has produced an introspective and inspirational ad designed to remind its audience of the great things that Australia has to offer.

Unlike Google’s efforts, there are no references to healthcare workers, instead, the scenic vistas and comforting voiceover tapped into a sense of national pride, which served as a welcome distraction to the COVID-19 pandemic. In our own consumer study, we found that 20% of Australians wanted brands to produce content that provided relief from the current situation.

Tourism Australia was able to do that and reap the branding benefits (brand favourability was 46% vs. a norm of 30%) despite the global restrictions to tourism.

4 – Ads that focused less on themselves performed better

Looking at the ads that appear at the top of our global chart compared with the ads that didn’t perform quite as well and there’s a clear distinction in the messaging and focus of the ad.

Ads that resonated strongly with viewers tended to focus on advocating and thanking communities and groups most affected by COVID-19, such as healthcare workers, and they minimise specific product messaging.

Meanwhile, ads that instruct viewers in the ways that they can still interact with the brand and their products during the pandemic tended to not only be less emotionally engaging but also attracted lower scores for more rational metrics, such as purchase intent and intent to find out more.

For example, the Gov.sg ad, which is second in our list, showcases people from all walks of life stepping up to support each other, really warmed the hearts of Singaporeans. This ties in with our findings that Singaporeans want ads to show how brands are supporting stakeholders during this difficult time.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Australia campaign’s heartfelt message, along with beautiful images of Australia, evoked strong feelings of happiness, warmth and inspiration among viewers.

There’s no pushy, salesy message, just promises of ‘repainted views and lighter horizon’ for travellers to enjoy once again, amplifying positive brand favourability and post-viewing intentions for Tourism AU. So, by staying in the minds of the consumers during this period, Tourism AU can immediately flip their switch from survival to revival once travel restrictions are lifted.

5 – Brand favourability correlates with emotional engagement

The ads at the top of our global chart were not only effective at emotionally engaging their viewers – they were also more likely to give consumers a more positive perception of the brand.

Looking at the chart, there’s a strong correlation between the ads that scored high for emotional engagement and those that scored highly for brand favourability. In other words, the ads which are more emotionally engaging are more likely to result in positive brand favourability scores.

This trend starts with the ad at the very summit of the global list — Google Japan’s “Thank You” — which, as well as generating the most intense emotions of any ad on the list, it also scored the highest for brand favourability.


Unruly analysed the emotional responses of 18,499 global consumers to 52 coronavirus campaign ads around the world using its content measurement tool, UnrulyEQ.

To account for differences in how people express themselves emotionally around the world, ads were then compared to the average for each region and ranked using Unruly’s EMO Index, which measures the intensity of emotion an ad generated compared to the territory average.

Each emotion is scored out of 10, with responses that score 9-10 considered ‘intense’. Unruly will continue to test COVID campaigns throughout the pandemic.

Click here to visit Unruly’s COVID-19 Hub.