Ah, Super Bowl Sunday, the day when sports fans get excited about the game and everyone else gets excited about the advertisements. But for all the companies who can afford the coveted ad spots during the game even though they have no idea how to fill them, here’s a five step guide to creating the ultimate Super Bowl Ad Experience.
Super Bowl ads, more than any other, are all about the story. Not just the stories within the commercial, but the meta-stories outside the commercial. These are ads that are designed for maximum impact and water-cooler (or internet, these days) conversation afterwards, and that means giving people a story to tell each other about the ad, whether it’s the story in the ad or about the making of it. Added benefit: If your story is controversial in some way, you might get some pre- or post-game media attention as added free publicity. So, make sure to add in something that’d make people gasp, whether it’s a plot twist, amount of money spent making the commercial or…
Celebrity! (The More The Better!)
What’s the quickest way to get people talking about your ad – quicker, even, than a controversial plot twist or spending insane amounts of money on it? Clearly, it’s having a famous face front and center. Think about this year’s Honda CRV ad, which had everyone talking even before we knew what it was an ad for, purely because the world went “Is that Matthew Broderick? Doing Ferris Bueller?!?” – or last year’s Darth Vader ad for Volkswagen, for that matter. Having a celebrity in your ad means that people are more likely to talk about it afterwards than the greatest tagline, most amazing visuals or explosive product (If you can have a celebrity director as well, then you’re golden; again, think of how much mileage Honda got from telling the world that their Matthew Broderick ad was directed by the guy who made The Hangover). Which, of course, leads us to…
Which was more important, ultimately? That Matthew Broderick was selling us Honda CRVs, or that Matthew Broderick was redoing key scenes from Ferris Bueller? It ties in with the celebrity lure, after all, that ads that remind us of something else that we like are going to more popular than anything trying to do something new. Reaching for the nostalgia audience means that half of your work in getting the viewers to feel good about your product is halfway done, because they’ll just transfer their feelings from whatever you’re invoking/ripping off over to what they’re watching now. And if there’s a backlash from people complaining that you’ve ruined their childhood…? Well, at least they’re still talking about the ad, right? All publicity is good publicity!
Release The Video Online Early
Even if you don’t want to release the ad itself before Super Bowl Sunday, you can always release advertisements for the advertisement, which will raise awareness and make the ad seem more like an “event” and less like… well, an advertisement, really. But the internet has done wonders to raise the already-high profile of Super Bowl ads, and the idea of making a feature of releasing them early – and making them online destinations in and of themselves – only strengthens their impact and the brand they’re promoting. Why anyone making a Super Bowl ad these days wouldn’t push them heavily online ahead of time is beyond me.
And, Oh Yeah, Have A Good Product, Too, I Guess
It’s a sad fact that what the ads are actually advertising almost seems like an after-thought these days, but that doesn’t make it any less true. But if a great ad has a great – or, at least, memorable, product behind it, that’s the last thing necessary to make a classic commercial. There’s a tail-wagging-the-dog effect here, but how many truly classic ads have you seen where the products at the core of them weren’t in themselves somewhat classic, iconic or at least well-remembered? It’s the ultimate punchline, in a way; if your product sucks, you run the risk of undercutting whatever goodwill you’ve raised in the rest of the commercial. So choose your product wisely, ad-makers; it could make all the difference.