Ronald McDonald. Tony the Tiger. Mr Peanut. The Aflac Duck.

Each of these iconic characters has come to represent their parent brand – McDonald’s restaurants, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal, Planters peanuts and Aflac insurance, respectively – for millions of consumers in the United States. But does their presence increase the effectiveness of TV advertising?

System1 – a UK-based global research firm that was known as BrainJuicer until 2017, and today boasts 13 offices in nine markets, including four locations in the US – set out to answer this question by analyzing 13,423 traditional television commercials that aired in 2018.

These spots were drawn from the automotive, financial, consumer packaged goods (CPG), health/beauty, and charity sectors. And each one was subject to a process that asked 150 online respondents to supply their overall emotional responses to an ad, as well as rating the intensity of that feeling.