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What Communicators Can Learn from Super Bowl Ads

Advertisements are, at their heart, creative storytelling, evoking rationale and emotional reactions to compel the viewer to take an intended action.

Super Bowl ads offer some of the best examples of this creativity, and Super Bowl LVII certainly had its share of creative ad spots. From Bradley Cooper and his mom promoting T-Mobile to Binky Dad, last night’s ads got me wondering what it is about these short stories that make them so effective, and what lessons communicators can learn from them.

Lessons for communicators are packed inside these Super Bowl short stories. Here are some thoughts on what made a few of the most memorable and well-received Super Bowl ads of all time so effective:

They touch your heart with the unexpected. Coca-Cola’s classic “Mean Joe Greene” commercial, which aired during Super Bowl XIV in 1980, features Pittsburgh Steeler’s defensive tackle “Mean” Joe Greene giving his game jersey to a young fan in exchange for a Coca-Cola. Surprise your audience by giving them the unexpected.

They make you laugh. Budweiser’s “Frogs” ad, which first aired during Super Bowl XXIX in 1995, features three frogs croaking the Budweiser slogan, “Bud-weis-er.” Sometimes, inserting a simple and silly light moment is the perfect way to connect with your audience.

They deliver star power. Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” commercial – which aired during Super Bowl LII in 2018, and features celebrities like Cardi B, Rebel Wilson and Sir Anthony Hopkins filling in for the voice of Alexa – reminds communicators that finding the right spokesperson or people can make all the difference.

They invoke pop culture. Volkswagen’s “The Force” ad, which aired during Super Bowl XLV in 2011, features a young boy dressed as Darth Vader attempting to use the Force on various objects around the house. Drawing a parallel for your audience to an easily recognizable pop culture reference can help your message land with impact.

These are just a few examples of the many memorable Super Bowl commercials that have aired over the years and the lessons communicators can take from them.

Which ads from Super Bowl LVII left a lasting impression on you, and why?


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