If everybody loves Super Bowl ads, then why don't advertisers always make Super Bowl-quality ads?

by David Spark on February 8, 2010

If everybody loves the ads during the Super Bowl, yet complain about ads in most all other programming, wouldn’t it be in an advertiser’s best interest to make the ads that appear the other 364 days of the year as appealing and as entertaining as Super Bowl ads?

Super Bowl XLIV 2010 - New Orleans SAINTS over Indianapolis COLTS 31-17

The reason we like Super Bowl ads so much is that they’re usually entertaining (often funny) and they’re fresh and new. The formula couldn’t be any simpler. Make your ads entertaining, ideally funny, and make lots of them, so people will always have something new to look at. It’s the reason we can’t wait to tune into the next new episode of our favorite show. Why should that be any different in advertising?

Having worked in advertising for ten years I know making lots of anything is not possible given the endless levels of checks and balances for approval (internally and with the client) for one stinking ad. Well instead of creating so much overhead for a simple 30 second ad, why not build out a whole series of ads that tell a continuing story? Sitcom writers create incredibly dense 22 minute scripts every week. Every minute is packed with lots of story and jokes. There’s no reason an ad campaign couldn’t work exactly the same way.

If people watch the Super Bowl as much for the game as the ads, why can’t people start getting excited about the content of ads during any other kind of programming as well? I know in England people like to watch the commercials before a movie in a theater because they’re so entertaining.

Super Bowl XLIV Indianapolis Colts vs. New Orleans Saints in Miami

Why didn’t every single Super Bowl ad include a web link for further information?

Before I watched the Super Bowl, I was thinking that every single advertiser should include a web link to further their 15 to 60-second story. Sadly, very few did, and it’s a shame because they’re missing a golden opportunity. If you’re blowing $3 million on a TV ad, stretch the value of it by extending the story through other media, especially at a time when people are so prone to share information, like during a world-focused live event. Allow people to take the further step into your story.

There’s so much for advertisers to learn from Super Bowl advertising. Not every advertiser can be in or afford to be in the Super Bowl. But every advertiser can learn lessons from the program and its advertising. Want your interstitial ads to be more effective? Follow these simple steps:

  • Make your ads entertaining (funny) and/or tell a story (e.g. Google’s Super Bowl ad).
  • Create lots of new ads. Continue a story or play off the same theme. People get bored seeing the same ad over and over again.
  • You only have 30 seconds on TV, but you’ve got full control of a potentially never ending experience online. No matter what ad you have, compel people to go online to continue the experience.
  • Live events often have people engaging in social media during the event. Give them something they can share with their friends online during the event.

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