By Gina Salerno, Account Coordinator, R&J Public Relations
Last year, 108.4 million people watched the biggest American sporting event of the year: The Super Bowl. The entire NFL season culminates with this one night, when the two best teams come together to fight for the World Championship title and to give the winning team’s fans bragging rights for the next year. From its two-week-long media hype to its supercharged half-time show, the Super Bowl gives people with a multitude of interests a reason to watch the Super Bowl. But I’ll be honest, I don’t watch it for the sport or the halftime show; I watch it for the commercials.
With each passing Super Bowl, the stakes of making a commercial worth the expense of purchasing a time slot increase dramatically ($4 million for 30 seconds this year!) More preparation goes into a Super Bowl commercial than just having the budget available to buy a strategically-picked 30-second time slot. The importance of the commercial is that it is easily translated across all media channels while providing the company’s message in a clear and precise way. To get the most out of those expensive 30 seconds, each commercial must include these factors:
- Catch the audience’s attention quickly – The most important and crucial step to a Super Bowl ad is getting and keeping the attention of the audience. The ad is competing with bathroom breaks, food and drink replenishment and conversation amongst the viewers in the room. Companies typically to do this by incorporating a loud noise or a celebrity into the commercial.
- An extreme topic: either really relatable or really far out there – Whether a storyline tugs on heart strings or provides a hilarious ‘that could never happen’ scenario, the story needs to stand out and be unique, or incorporate a unique twist in to an otherwise normal situation. A commercial’s storyline should not be mediocre with nothing special or out of the ordinary. This is the Super Bowl—go big or go home!
- Create a teaser – My favorite part about most recent Super Bowl commercials is their ability to leave a consumer wanting more. Usually a commercial has your attention for 15-30 seconds and the relationship is over. In more recent years, companies have left consumers wanting more to the story and they do so by leaving the story open ended. To find out more about the product, we go to our next factor…
- A social media platform to encourage engagement – Today, every company is online through social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) By creating an action for the consumer to do more than just view the commercial on TV, it directs consumers to the company’s webpage or social media platforms. Want to see the alternate ending to that thrilling car commercial? Visit their YouTube page. While you’re there, you could share it and use the hashtag provided by the company, as well. The long and the short of it is that the campaign must translate across all platforms to be effective and get the most out of the company’s investment in the commercial’s time slot.
- The company’s message – No matter how funny or emotional the commercial is, the brand and message of the company needs to be clear in its delivery. If viewers can recall the commercial but not the company, the message has failed. Along with social media engagement, repetition has proven to be the best way to get a viewer to remember a commercial. Incorporating the brand and message through the commercial, with an emphasis at the end of the commercial, is enough repetition to get a company’s message across without taking away from the creativity of the commercial.
Behind all of the views, hits, and shares, there is an unseen PR force driving the marketing rollercoaster that is a Super Bowl commercial. What is your favorite Super Bowl commercial and why? Tell me in the comments below!