Corporate Eye

Undercover Boss Commercials Boost Brand Opinion

undercover-bossIf you want to get a positive brand boost, get your company on Undercover Boss — a television show on CBS in the United States that sends company presidents and other leaders undercover into their own companies to investigate it from the inside.

A new report from Nielsen reveals the top trends of 2010, including the 10 most effective product placements based on brand opinion.  7 out of the top 10 of the most effective product placements based on brand opinion were from Undercover Boss — specifically, 1-800-FLOWERS, Subway, Waste Management, Ride the Ducks, Hooters, DirecTV, and Roto-Rooter.

Rounding out the top 10 are:

  • Sears with a spot on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (show host shops for items for home makeover and Sears pays the bill)
  • with a spot on Who Do You Think You Are? (participants use to search for information about relatives)
  • Subway with a spot on Chuck (different characters eat Subway sandwiches and mention the brand)

In terms of advertising likability in 2010, two brands dominated the top 10 on Nielsen’s report: Snickers and M&M’s.  Each brand appeared in the top ten list three times.  Other brands in the top 10 ads based on likability in 2010 include: Target, Samsung, Chef Boyardee, and Starburst.  It’s important to note that the vast majority of commercials in the top 10 were humorous.

What do these top 10 lists tell us about consumers, brand perceptions, and marketing trends?  First, transparency is paramount in consumers minds as the popularity of Undercover Boss in terms of brand opinion demonstrates.  Second, humor always works when it comes to building a positive perception and being remembered.  Third, appropriate product placements and commercials that support a brand’s promise are far more effective than placements and commercials that run counter to a brand’s promise and risk confusing consumers — or worse, angering them.

What commercials and television brand placements from 2010 stick out in your mind as being likable?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.


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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.