Every year as the Super Bowl draws near, anticipation builds. People are not just excited about the action on the gridiron, but also about a new batch of commercials that will air during the big game. With some of the highest ratings of any televised event during the year, advertisers pay big money to get their name in front of millions of eyeballs. This year, the cost to air one 30-second spot during the Super Bowl was a whopping $5 million. With how saturated the modern media landscape is with video on multiple platforms, that equals a huge gamble on the part of advertisers.
The mission of a Super Bowl spot is for you to remember the ad and recall the brand’s name. Where most commercials are 30-seconds long, we usually work on video projects 1-3min. in length which provides a little more time to make an impression, but not much. Like all Super Bowl ads, our primary goal is to tell a memorable story by using great visuals and solid storytelling technique. Our second goal is for the viewer to not just remember a video we’ve produced, but to become a fan of the business, university or organization we’re putting on-screen and to learn more, tell more and do more to support it. There were some extended long-form commercials this year, by companies like 84 Lumber and Budweiser, that excelled at being more than just a product placement.
During last Sunday’s Super Bowl LI, 84 Lumber’s “The Journey Begins” commercial depicting a mother and child making their way through a rugged landscape garnered quite a bit of attention. After being censored by Fox Sports for being deemed overly political in nature, the ad’s simple, yet provocative story kept viewers engaged and wanting to know how it ends. So many viewers were curious that it only took a few minutes to crash 84 Lumber’s website because of the heavy traffic. With a spot like this, they are trying to say something about their company culture and belief system with the hope that potential customers will buy into the brand, not just the product. That’s hard to do, but if the gamble pays off, you have fans and not just customers.
Being cute, clever and funny are approaches that get recycled every year in Super Bowl ads. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Budweiser has a great reputation for using animals as the central characters of their spots, but this year, they went out on a limb and did something really different with their “Born the Hard Way” spot. Similar to “The Journey Begins”, Budweiser used simple storytelling and powerful visuals to tell the story of founder Adolphus Busch’s trek to America while following a dream. In just one minute, a life changing journey is depicted.
Whether it’s for sharing on social media or airing during the Super Bowl, if the spot doesn’t resonate with the viewer, then what’s the point? Visual Storytelling is why video works! “The Journey Begins” and “Born the Hard Way” both depict people on life-changing journeys to fulfill their dreams in America. By seeing the emotion and resolve on the protagonist’s face, the terrible conditions they must endure along the way and then a twinge of a smile in these two ads, a viewer can quickly develop a connection not just with the product but with the brand. Simple storytelling and powerful visuals can open wallets, open hearts and open minds.
Photo credit: Superbowl Game shot / Source: CNN
Photo credit: The Journey Begins / Source: 84 Lumber
Photo credit: Born the Hard Way/ Source: Anheuser-Busch