As Super Bowl mania sweeps the country, tens of thousands of people head to Arizona this weekend, hoping their flights run on time. All the while, marketing directors eagerly await the buzzworthy ads — which cost up to $7 million for a 30-second spot this year.
You should study the commercials, too. Even on a Little League budget (and without the A-list cameos), your next campaign can take a page from their playbook.
Focus on the opening image
A good Super Bowl ad is one that raises immediate curiosity in order to create a lasting impression.
“The most important elements are a great script [and] high production value,” says ROI Machines founder Rudy Mawer. He adds that an eye-catching “hook” or visual to begin the ad is crucial to catch viewers’ attention.
Facts tell, stories sell
Many Super Bowl ads connect with viewers on a deeply emotional level — whether happy, sad, or inspirational.
“Memorable storytelling is essential to get your message across in 30 seconds or less,” says Mawer. He cites relatable and relevant characters as a cornerstone of emotional marketing.
Keep it repeatable
You’ve probably seen numerous teasers for PopCorners’ Breaking Bad commercial on social media. Christena Garduno, CEO of multichannel agency Media Culture, emphasizes that digital advertising means you don’t have to rely on a single 30-second ad to craft your story.
“Using sequential advertising, brands can reach consumers with multiple, related ads before, during, and after the Super Bowl,” Garduno says, adding, “Don’t be afraid to experiment with low-budget executions prior to the main event.”
While reaching the audience through multiple touchpoints, however, Garduno recommends maintaining a “consistent, catchy message.”
It should look (and sound) professional
Even on a small budget, you don’t want your ad to feel cheap. Audiovisual quality is important, so make sure your in-house or external production team is up to the task.
That said, an eye-catching campaign doesn’t have to cost smaller brands a lot, especially if you’re focusing on mobile or social media advertising.
“Consumers have a substantially different expectation of ad quality on their large-screen televisions versus on their mobile devices,” advises Garduno.
Make viewers laugh
Major brands get serious about hiring Hollywood’s top comedy writers for Super Bowl ads. “Funny commercials are a mainstay of Super Bowl advertising,” Mawer says, adding that “creating humor can help get your commercial noticed even if you don’t have a big budget.”
But make sure the jokes are appropriate to your brand and that your message doesn’t get lost in the laughs.
“A memorable commercial is one that is so different that the consumer has no choice but to commit it to memory,” says Garduno. “This can be done through humor [but] the goal is for the audience to remember the product or brand long after the Super Bowl has ended.”