The Best of the Super Bowl
Ah, the Super Bowl! When large men collide, hyperbole reaches new heights, and national advertisers pony up $5.6 million to showcase their creative talents! It’s a uniquely American moment and one of the last when large groups of people gather at one time in front of their TVs to watch broadcast television. It’s also one of the last televised events in which viewers actually pay attention to the commercials, thus the $5.6 million price tag. Add in the millions spent to create a “Super Bowl-worthy” ad, and it becomes a high-stakes event for advertisers, some of whom seem to get a little wacked out in their quest to produce a commercial worthy of all that hyper scrutiny. Ultimately, a commercial is worthy if it delivers a return on that $5.6 million investment, but that’s a long-term metric that carries no weight on Super Bowl Sunday or the following days when the experience is still fresh in the minds of its 100 million + viewers. Nope, it’s all about the water cooler buzz, because if people are talking about your commercial that means they remembered it and if they remembered it that means they may remember what your selling and if they remember what you’re selling they may eventually buy it! Tada!
Except . . . creating entertainment is not the same as creating a great selling message. So, while all us Cheetos connoisseurs can relate to having that gross, sticky orange dust on our fingers, it could be argued that that’s one good reason NOT to buy Cheetos. And while it was weirdly fascinating to watch Jason Momoa being his “true self” at home, there wasn’t much there to convince me that Rocket Mortgage is my go-to lender. And as for that creepy baby peanut thing . . . wha?
So, in my opinion, the prize for the commercial that best delivered the selling message while capturing our attention with great creative goes to . . . Amazon Alexa.
This ad worked because it stayed true to its premise, set up by the opening question posed by Ellen to Portia: “What do you think people did before Alexa?” With that, the spot took off, answering the question in a myriad of hilarious ways, continuously and brilliantly bring us back to the premise: that Alexa can make your life better by instantaneously bringing a world of information to you just by asking. How did we ever live without her? Answer: not very well. So, don’t you want one? And—this is subtly implied—if you don’t have one, you are uncool and living in the past.
There’s a lesson here for advertisers of all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re producing a $5 million Super Bowl epic or a $1,000 local spot, make sure you:
- Understand your core selling proposition
- Assure that the premise of your commercial is true to that proposition
- Articulate that premise as simply and as clearly as possible
If you need to bury a giant version of your product in a giant hole in the ground to make this work, okay. If not, remember that entertaining me is not the same as persuading me.