A Lesson from This Year’s Super Bowl Ads
Like many, I enjoy the commercials played during the Super Bowl. Don’t get me wrong—I like the football, too. But let’s be real: A big reason a good majority of people even watch the game is to catch the commercials that a few companies pay millions of dollars to air (CNNMoney reports that this year’s ads hit an all-time high with a price sticker of $4 million for 30 seconds of air time) and probably months—even years—to develop. While eating way too much queso, wings and Chex Party Mix, I watched this year’s line-up with much anticipation. And when all was said and done, I have to say that the mix taught me a valuable lesson.
The three commercials that stand out to me the most advertised two different kinds of vehicles and a popular brand of beer. It is not the product that made the commercial stand out; it is the messaging used in their respective ads that still has me thinking about them. Which three are they?
- Jeep: America is Whole Again: You know the ad—the salute to the return of American troops voiced by Oprah herself. This two-minute spot resonates because of its patriotism, compelling visuals and the ending tagline that is easily remembered: “Because when you’re home. . .we are a nation that is whole again.” I teared up. I love my country and am thankful for our troops and everything they do to serve America. This ad was not about a Jeep. In fact, an actual Jeep is only seen about 10 times in the entire commercial, and each time is very subtle. No, this ad is about the bravery and heroism of our military men and women and their return home. And it makes a huge connection with this country who has been fighting a war for more than a decade.
- Budweiser, Brotherhood: Whoever thinks animals don’t have feelings needs to watch this commercial again. This nearly 90-second spot follows the tale of a man rearing a Clydesdale for Budweiser and their reunion while the horse is back in its hometown. I am an animal lover, so this one automatically connected with me. Even if you are anti-animal, you have to admit this one makes a good connection with even some tiny bit of your emotions—and it does so because the storyline is about the man and his horse, not about beer. Again, Budweiser is seen subtly throughout the commercial but isn’t the overall message for the commercial.
- Farmer: Ram Trucks hit a homerun with this one. Voiced by famed radio personality Paul Harvey (using a speech he made to the Future Farmers of America convention in 1978), this two-minute commercial hits at the heart of America: those who make their life caring for our land. Using images of fields, tractors, farms and the nation’s heartland, “Farmer” once again is not about the product (Ram Trucks) but about paying homage to that dying way of life. No bikini-clad women or humor were needed; what works is the simplicity of the images and the power of the words spoken. And we remember it.
These three commercials hit a soft spot in me. Yes, I remember the product that was being marketed in each, but what I remember most is the emotional connection they made. Beer, trucks and Jeeps don’t make you cry (usually). But the messaging those advertisers used while promoting their product did. They moved me. And I appreciate that.
So, what lesson can be learned here? Simple storylines, powerful words and beautiful images sell your product the best. You don’t have to hype your business or item to get your point across. You can do like these three examples do and softly sell, while moving your audience. This is applicable in advertising across the mediums—print, radio, billboards, fliers, digital, TV, etc. Use whatever time and space you have to make an emotional connection with people. Without it, your message will be lost in the black hole of other ads. More than 70 commercials were shown during this year’s Super Bowl, and only those three, using an emotional connection, remain the most memorable to me.
We hope this information is helpful, insightful and, if nothing else, provided a five-minute respite to your busy day. Thanks for reading. ‘Til next time. . .