Catalina Crunch Campaign Shows How to Save the World From Boring Advertising

A trio of advertising ecosystem avengers — Catalina Crunch, SuperHeroes NY, and System1 — assembled with one mission in mind — save the world from boring advertising. 

Imagine it if you will, you’re sitting on your porch eating Catalina Crunch Cereal, and you look up and your neighbor is chirping away to a pair of seagulls who then respond to her. Next, a voiceover says, “The world is full of surprises—like getting cinnamon toast cereal without all the bad stuff.”

Pretty funny stuff, huh?

That’s what happens in the first nationwide brand awareness TV Campaign from Catalina Crunch.  With the help of SuperHeroes NY and System1, the keto-friendly cereal and snack brand created 30, 15, and 6-second spots featured across TV, social media, and CTV platforms, with a focus on amusing their audience.

To test and land on the right creative, SuperHero NY leveraged System1’s Test Your Ad platform to scale the campaign’s performance and determine how viewers felt about the creative throughout development. The goal was to connect data with creativity. Test Your Ad enables marketers and their agency partners to A/B test people’s emotional responses to creative, second-by-second, with custom reports delivered within 24 hours.

AdMonsters spoke with Krishna Kaliannan, Founder/CEO, Catalina Snacks, Jon Evans, Chief Customer Officer, System1, and Susan Vugts, Managing Director, SuperHeroes NY, about the campaign. We discussed System 1’s Test Your Ad platform, how to market a campaign across different platforms, and the importance of collaboration. 

Catalina Crunch’s Creative Campaign Collaboration

AB: Catalina Crunch partnered with SuperHeroes NY and System1 for a creative cereal campaign. Why was this partnership worthwhile for your company? 

Krishna Kaliannan: We’re big fans of leveraging data to drive improvements. In Catalina Crunch’s early years, we learned that less than half (45%) of buyers were eating our cereal out of a bowl. Some were eating it from the bag as a snack, baking, or adding it to yogurt or smoothies. This insight led to the launch of additional snack product lines.  

So when we launched a broader awareness campaign, we also wanted to ensure we were partnering with agencies that understood data and creativity.

When we learned about the Test Your Ad platform, we recognized it as another way to capture valuable feedback from consumers so that we could create an ad they would enjoy. As a challenger brand, we aim to stand out among established competitors. Partnering with Superheroes as our creative agency that seeks to save the world from boring advertising and System1 has enabled us to be more creative and get real audience insights that shape the final campaign.

Testing Your Ad’s Effectiveness

AB: SuperHeroes NY used System1’s Test Your Ad platform to gauge how viewers felt about the creative throughout development. How does this product work, and why did you think creating it was necessary? 

Jon Evans: Nearly half of all advertising (48%) does not deliver long-term market share growth. Furthermore, many brands need clarity on which campaigns fail to engage consumers. We developed Test Your Ad, a platform that measures viewers’ emotional response to advertising because research demonstrates that the more people feel, the more they buy.

With Test Your Ad, advertisers and agencies can quickly and accurately predict the short-and long-term potential of creative, understand which specific elements are or are not adding value, improve their ad’s effectiveness through expert guidance and compare their ad to competitors’ commercials among our database of more than 80,000 ads.

Tell Me a Story: Scaling Ad Creative Across Channels

AB: While this is Catalina Crunch’s first TV campaign, the ads will be displayed across social media and streaming platforms. Do you find that marketing across different platforms changes your ad process? Do you have to market to audiences differently depending on the platform? If so, how? 

Susan Vugts: When developing our campaigns, we will always start with a solid creative strategy and build our story upon a vital human insight and a creative nugget that connects with people and can stand out.

For Catalina Crunch, this was the insight that something that seems impossible can be true. Like healthy cereal that tastes delicious or a neighbor that talks with seagulls in the Catalina campaign.

Based on this premise, we usually develop multiple executions per platform and audience because you must market to audiences and platforms differently. But we also ensure we have one overarching recognizable storyline and build distinctive brand assets such as packaging, color usage, and logo across all executions and platforms to build brand affinity. This is especially true for a challenger brand such as Catalina Crunch, which is building its brand and business. 

Optimizing Marketing Budgets Amidst Economic Uncertainty

AB: There is a reported slowdown in ad spend and a possible ad recession. What role should creative advertising play in combating this rough spot? 

JE: Many brands are looking for ways to stretch their marketing budgets further in the face of an economic downturn. Creative effectiveness is key to maximizing a brand’s advertising investment.

Creative effectiveness is key to maximizing a brand's advertising investment.

First, marketers must understand which of their current campaigns support brand building and which do not impact the bottom line. Ad testing can help reveal the effectiveness metrics so that marketers can allocate spend to the ads most likely to drive market share growth.

While some brands will inevitably roll out new ads during a recession, others may prefer to create savings by reinvesting in campaigns with high effectiveness metrics.

System1 has conducted extensive research on ad wear-out and has found no evidence. Audiences take more time with creative than marketers do. Advertisers can revive or repurpose older creative that tests well with audiences to reduce the need for an entirely new brief and production process.

Brand-building Ads Spark Emotion

AB: What advice would you give to advertisers to implement creative ads in their campaigns to help them drive revenue? 

JE: One of the main differentiators between ads that drive long-term growth and those that don’t is the former’s emphasis on right-brained features.

Advertising expert and author Orlando Wood outlines in his books — Lemon. How the advertising brain turned sour. and Look out — the importance of appealing to the brain’s right hemisphere to drive mental availability. Right-brained features include:

  • Melodic music
  • Characters with agency
  • A clear sense of place
  • A scene unfolding
  • Humor and dialogue

Brand-building ads spark an emotion in viewers, ideally happiness.

In comparison, Wood’s research finds that ads that lean heavily on left-brained elements, like rhythmic music, voiceovers, words on the screen, and freeze-frame effects, are less likely to drive long-term market share growth. Unfortunately, over the last nearly 20 years, there has been an increase in left-brained features and a decrease in right-brained features in ads. 

Advertisers must build briefs with the right and left brain in mind. Agencies are equally responsible for developing concepts focusing on storytelling and bringing rich characters and interactions into the mix. This creative will have a better chance of taking viewers on an emotional journey and driving long-term profit and market share growth.