Macy's is embracing innovation.

J.C. Penney & Co. garnered the top spot in advertising effectiveness for July with a back-to-school digital ad, according to the ABX Advertising Benchmark Index. Other top scorers in ad effectiveness included Lowe’s, Kroger Co. and Macy’s.

The firm’s consumer panel rates the marketing of each ad on 15 variables and the ABX Index score measures overall ad effectiveness with a score of 100 equaling “average effectiveness.” The categories Awareness — or brand linkage — and Message scores are determined by audience impact, which is measured by the Reputation and Call to Action categories.

Researchers at the firm ran 613 new ads in July 2017. J.C. Penney had the highest overall ABX Index score, and the lowest was Target at 55.

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Lowe’s ranked number one in the television category with its “The moment you realize you have a 1-person vanity and a 4-person family” campaign, which was a success in every area of the country, particularly in the South. The report said that its ABX Index score “is plus-34 percent over norm and reflects a very successful message (plus 40 percent) and ABX Gender Equality Index scores for the male, female, boy and girl actors. The respectful positioning of these characters further impacted Reputation, at plus 104 percent over norm as well as intended Action (plus 41 percent).”

J.C. Penney’s “Get Your Penny’s Worth — Buy One, Get One for a Penny” campaign was number one in radio, as its “Penney” and “penny” levity resonated well with audiences, according to the report. “This 15-second spot was successful in every area, with a plus 20 percent ABX Index, a plus 20 percent Message and plus 9 percent Awareness. While plus 9 percent may not seem like much, this is the area in which most ads fail, barely hitting Average (100) ABX scores,” the report said. Its Reputation and Action scores were high for each category.

Model Released - Young woman accompanying her kids as they cross the road on their way to schoolSeptember and back to school

Parents will spend an average $501 per child for back-to-school purchases.  Isopix/REX/Shutterstock

The number-one digital spot was also earned by J.C. Penney, with its “Marcus, come on — you’ll be late for school” video campaign pulling in a Reputation score plus 201 percent over the norm. The 1 minute and 30 second online video depicts children at school in a number of embarrassing scenarios fueled by the all-too-familiar plot of forgetting essential items at home. “The high ABX Index of plus 47 percent reflects other high scores for Message and Action. In addition, the ABX Gender Equality Index is above average for all major players. Ironically, the segment falls down a bit on Awareness, leaving company identification to the very end,” researchers at the firm noted.

For the print category, Kroger Co.’s “We’re Honoring Our Heroes” small banner ad scored plus 20 percent above norm in the Message category and yielded above average Gender Scores, with high Reputation scores plus 112 percent over the norm. Its Intended Action score was also high at plus 29 percent on every CTA, which includes Purchase Intent at plus 19 percent. Kroger Co. honors the U.S. military by donating $1 million to the USO.

Macy’s ranked number one for Free Standing Inserts via its “Black Friday in July” campaign that selected yellow as its primary coloration in lieu of its typical black. “The FSI reaps good scores across Message (plus 27 percent), Reputation (plus 61 percent) and Action (plus 27 percent), though most of the latter is on CTA’s that involve intent to learn more rather than purchase. In Gender, the fully clothed male model was rated higher than the bathing suit-clad females. Awareness was closer to Average possibly due to a subtle logo and the color change.”

For outdoor advertising, only one billboard advertisement ran and it was below the ABX Average of 100.

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