Why B2B Ads Lacking Likeability, Lack Sales

By Tristan Morris


New research by System1, a global marketing research organisation, and LinkedIn’s B2B Institute uncovered some uncomfortable truths about B2B ad creativity. Or, more specifically, the lack of B2B creativity in advertising.  

Interestingly, System1’s survey revealed there’s a direct link between an ad’s likeability and sales growth. Yet, most B2B ads fail to leave a lasting impact on their audience. So, what can be done to elevate creativity? And why does likeability matter to consumers? In this article, we’ll explore the need for fresh B2B creative and how a new formula could transform B2B ads for the better. 

The Need for Fresh B2B Creative

Due to the nature of their audience, B2B ads tend to be less creative altogether. In most cases, ads follow a standard formula combining product/service features, visuals, and a voice-over. The problem is that these ads are too generic. They often include results like ROI which could be relevant to any B2B organisation. As a result, they fail to build any memorable connection with a brand — which is the one thing B2B creative desperately needs.

Even though many believe you don’t need to invoke emotion for B2B sales, it’s quite the opposite. The majority of B2B target audiences won’t make a purchase right away. The sales process is long and typically involves several stakeholders before any purchase is made. That means nurturing the audience and building an emotional brand connection is even more important for ensuring a successful sale further down the line. So, why, then, does B2B creative fail to deliver?

B2B Creative Isn’t Likeable

System1’s research analysed over 2,500 B2B ads between 2020 and 2022, specifically testing for their likeability and brand recognition using a five-point scale. For clarity, 1 is the lowest an ad can score, while 5 means the ad is likeable, memorable, and leaves a lasting impact on consumers. Worryingly, over 66% of B2B ads scored just 1 star. That means nearly three quarters of all B2B ads were rated forgettable and meaningless. Less than 1 in 10 ads received 3 stars.

The results for brand recognition were slightly better, but not by a huge margin. Consumers couldn’t correctly identify a brand in 24% of B2B ads. That does mean the brand was identifiable in 76% of ads, but this is still far behind the B2C average of 83%. It’s clear there’s work to be done.

A New B2B Creative Formula: ABLE

It’s time to leave the old formula behind in favour of something new. Having analysed successful and impactful ads, System1 created a new formula, named ABLE. Put simply, this means: Attention X Branding X Linkage = Equity. Let’s go through each stage to explain why it works.


The first stage is fairly self-explanatory, and it’s usually a given across any creative. However, B2B ads often fail to grab consumers’ attention. It’s essential to create ads that spark attention with engaging, fun, and creative elements, rather than facts like ROI and cost-saving figures.

So, ads should incorporate music, unique visuals, likeable and relatable characters, and themes that get the conversation going. Try to think of a storyline that hooks viewers, which you can carry through to other creative, too. Without an attention-grabbing ad, the rest is pointless.


If the person watching your ad has no idea what the brand is, it doesn’t really matter how entertaining it is or how catchy the music is. Make the brand clear from the outset, but do it creatively across multiple frames and with memorable tag lines. Be sure to weave the brand’s colours throughout the ad, too.


For your ad to leave an impact, consumers need to see the value in a brand. However, try to avoid focusing purely on features. Instead, shift focus to how the product or service is used in real-life situations — let the audience see how the solution can solve their problems, and how they can apply it in their life. That way, they’re sure to remember it. 

Remember, B2B creative shouldn’t be boring — and it doesn’t have to be. Executed correctly, B2B ads can be fun, engaging, and memorable for consumers. And that’s the key to converting potential leads into sales.  

At TrunkBBI, we know what it takes to create B2B ads that elevate your brand’s presence. We’re a team of skilled individuals with decades of experience in creating ads that build trust, resonate with consumers, and power brand growth. To see how we could transform your brand, complete the form below or give us a call. 


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