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Shelby Hartin Shelby Hartin
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The Marketing Edge - Attention-grabbing Super Bowl ads

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As I scrolled through Facebook prior to the Super Bowl, I noticed a common trend: a few of my friends mentioned they didn’t really care to watch the game and they were only tuning in so they could watch the commercials.

I don’t know about you, but the only time I’ve ever heard someone say they couldn’t wait to watch a commercial was during the Super Bowl. That got me thinking: what is it about these Super Bowl ads that are so popular? Other than being enjoyable to watch, these commercials also offer a valuable lesson for marketers. They can examine why the commercials that end up on the “best Super Bowl commercials” lists published by various news outlets after the Big Game end up there.

We’re not going to make a “best” list because, let’s face it, everyone has a different opinion when it comes to which was best, but we are going to look at three commercials that I’ve heard a lot of feedback about since the Super Bowl, and why they generated so much conversation. 

  1.     #TideAd. “No, this is a #TideAd,” David Harbour of “Stranger Things” fame says multiple times throughout this commercial. The combination of a celebrity and the content of this commercial made it funny and memorable, plus it kept the viewer engaged by switching constantly from one “genre” of ad to another. It also kept the viewer guessing and trying to connect the disparate commercials with an ad from another company. Tide had fun with these different genres, which made the ad fun for viewers, too. Perhaps the best part of the commercial is at the end when Harbour says “So, does this make every Super Bowl ad a Tide ad? I think it does. Watch and see.” This gives the viewer a challenge of sorts by asking them to look at the other ads and see if they match the genres Tide pointed out in such a funny way. Marketers being extremely self-aware of the way they approach ads made for a commercial that people have yet to stop talking about. Additionally, the ad was focused on what Tide is for -- laundering clothes. Tide is getting a lot of bad press over the Tide Pod eating fad, so they effectively delivered the message that Tide is to keep clothes clean -- nothing more!
  2.     Dirty Dancing Remake. This was perhaps the most shared commercial on my personal Facebook News Feed. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. may not have been playing in the Super Bowl, but they still generated a lot of talk during the Big Game with this commercial, which had them recreating the iconic scene from Dirty Dancy in which Johnny lifts Baby up during the song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” Manning lifted Beckham Jr. with quite a bit of finesse, and the commercial seems to have triggered laughs for many people who watched. This commercial was funny, featured recognizable faces, and was also very relevant because it was a commercial for the NFL during the Super Bowl. I also believe in the popularity of this one because Google searching “Dirty Dancing” now brings up the query “Dirty Dancing Super Bowl Commercial” in related searches. If that’s not success for a marketer, I don’t know what is.
  3.     Alexa Lost Her Voice. Poor Amazon Alexa lost her voice, but don’t worry, the employees at Amazon have back-ups ready to go. These back-ups aren’t quite what Alexa users expect to hear when they prompt the device to listen to them by saying “Alexa,” though. From Cardi B refusing to play a country song for one user and wondering why another wants to know how far away Mars is, to Gordon Ramsay hilariously reaming out an adult for asking Alexa how to make a grilled cheese, this commercial was hilarious and filled with celebrity appearances.
  4.     Use humor. It’s obvious that these commercials were popular because they were so funny. They never crossed the line into territory that would offend, though, which is important to note.
  5.     Think about recruiting a recognizable face. You don’t have to pay a celebrity to feature in your commercial, but every community has a handful of people that everyone seems to know. It never hurts to feature a face people can connect with. 

Let’s keep in mind that businesses pay hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for these commercial spots during the Super Bowl. Many businesses can’t afford to do such a thing, but there are a couple takeaways to consider if you’re thinking about creating a commercial or video of your own:

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