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Sweets for my sweet: the sugary world of confectionary commercials

n=240 Australians 14+

If the way it’s advertised on TV is anything to go by, chocolate is the key to happiness. Whether viewers are being transported to Joyville, a funky hippo’s zoo enclosure or a romantic beach with Glee star Naya Rivera, chocolate commercials tend to inhabit a fantasy world where irritating details like weight gain and pimples don’t exist. But do these ads hit the sweet spot for Australian audiences?

Roy Morgan Research has measured the real-time reactions of Australians to seven well known television commercials from chocolate brands such as Cadbury, Snickers and Kit Kat, as well as lolly companies The Natural Confectionary Co and Skittles.

By tracking viewers’ spontaneous responses to each ad as it played out, the Reactor provided an accurate, unbiased picture of which ads engaged viewers most successfully and which left them unmoved.  And the most popular ad of the lot? Kit Kat – enjoyed by male, female, old and young alike.

Have a break, have a Kit Kat — the best of seven


Sample: n=240 Australians 14+

Top of the chocs

Taking a break from sweeping out the hippo enclosure, a zookeeper sits down to have a Kit Kat. He rips open the packaging … and the hippo starts making beat-box noises! This whimsical Kit Kat commercial was especially popular with women, but men liked it too, resulting in an ‘R’ score (overall likeability) of 58, the highest of all seven ads.

The ‘Have a break, have a Kit Kat’ ad also topped the field in other key measures: Hot Zone (% of viewers scoring over 70), Peak Score (highest average achieved), Critical Likeability (second half of ad) and End Score (final three seconds). Which just goes to show… who needs persuasive sales-speak when you’ve got a beat-boxing hippo?

Purple balloons, celebrities and Skittles strangeness

Cadbury’s ‘Joyville Special Deliveries’, a magical romp in which Cadbury chocolate is inextricably linked with joy, also rated highly — particularly among female members of our test audience. M&Ms’ Superbowl commercial, starring a red M&M singing Meatloaf’s ‘I Would Do Anything for Love’ as it romances Glee actress Naya Rivera while trying to avoid getting eaten, was extremely popular with men and women under 50.

While a celebrity can certainly boost a commercial’s popularity, it’s not always a sure-fire guarantee. Despite the presence of tennis legend Roger Federer, Lindt’s ‘Lindor Caramel Ball’ ad received a lukewarm reaction at best.

Even less liked was Skittles’ ‘Midas Touch’ spot: a dramatic departure from the usual sweet, upbeat approach of confectionary advertising. This strange mini-saga of a man who turns everything he touches into Skittles alienated older viewers so much that their negative response adversely impacted its overall score.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Reactor testing of Australians’ responses to confectionary advertisements has revealed some distinct trends. Women almost always respond more favourably than men to the joyous fantasy world depicted in these commercials; likewise, young viewers are far more receptive than those 50 and over.

“As we’ve also found with beer commercials, humour is an effective means of engaging audiences: hence the positive reactions to the Kit Kat and M&Ms ads. (Dark humour, as employed by Skittles, is not so reliable.) Whimsy — as in the Cadbury’s or Natural Confectionary Co’s commercials — was also well received.

“While likeability is crucial for building positive associations that will ultimately influence viewers’ purchasing habits, an ad also needs to be memorable. In this respect, M&Ms topped the list, achieving a top-of-mind recall of 30%.

“With access to more entertainment and information channels and platforms than ever before, Australians are no longer held hostage by TV commercials as they once were. Unless an ad is both likeable and readily recalled, it risks becoming little more than background static.”

For comments or more information please contact:

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research
Office: +61 (3) 9224 5215

Learn more about the Reactor

About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%