Within 30-seconds (at $5.6 million), which Super Bowl TV commercials successfully tell a story without leveraging celebrity? AND the story sticks afterwards?
Every year’s Super Bowl Ads fit the Pareto’s 80/20 Law: 80% are trying too hard to be funny, over dramatic, missing the point, far fetched, too busy, having too much explosive actions shots, or celebrating vulgarity and poor taste, or just plain stupid. From the remaining 20%, we picked these top three for 2021:
#3 – “WeatherTech Is Patriotic”
Using its own employees working on its products, this ad delivers a simple and straightforward point: made in the USA, by Americans. “Working hard and using your talent still means something here in America, Weathertech.”
While unemployment is high in this COVID economic downturn, this ad gives hope about jobs, country, and pride for ordinary people.
Authentic, compelling, touching. It is for the real working people. No dramatizing, no celebrities.
Words, visuals, and music seamlessly blend to deliver one focused story that has staying power.
Relevant to COVID lockdown and cooped-up-at-home reality of kids shrieking, dog running, food on the floor, and paints on the table, AND the fact that 65% of household chores fall on one person (mom more than dad, of course), this ad is upbeat and lighthearted. It focuses on “togetherness”, where a husband and a wife do dishes side by side and playfully bump each other, cleaning up the mess kids made. The commercial ended with Dawn dish soap and Swiffer logos at the end with voiceover: “Because when we are together, we are better, in our homes, and out.”
The message is simple and focused: Dawn and Swiffer help you clean, and even better, clean TOGETHER. It is relevant to the pandemic reality of kids and parents all being at home, and uplifting for families and parents with small children–a dog licking jelly off the floor and parents washing piles of dirty dishes. No big heroic words or special effects, not even close-up facial features.
Again, the ad is so relatable because it is based on reality and common folks’ daily life. It is sensitive to the pandemic times, and gently encourages couples to share household chores. Well done.
#1 – “Bass Pro Shops” Outdoors Ad
Like #2, this ad starts with a boy, a dad, and a grandpa, wanting to get out of the house for hiking and fishing. A gentle and advising male voice: “In these trying times, we need nature more than ever. We need nature to remind us that like sunrise or turning of tides, these challenges shall pass, ” while the beauty and peace of nature unfolds on the screen with the sounds of water and a piano melody.
“We need nature to help us heal and reconnect with the ones we love the most,” while photos and videos show a dad with his son holding up a huge fish they caught, a young family canoeing on a river and a zooming motor boat on a vast lake, then a happy family sitting around a campfire and two boys gathering firewood… “so when you can, get back to nature, get back to each other. We are here for you.” The end screen has these words: Let’s get back to nature. We are all one family in the great outdoors.
Caring, comforting, like a warm and reliable friend, this ad too is addressing the immediate needs of everyone’s locked down life at home, persuading us to be outdoors during the pandemic, …..
It does not try too hard to be funny or to be shocking, it does not sell in your face or guilt trip with a forced association of some great cause to their products. It is honest, convincing, with no hidden agenda or any drama or celebrities. Again, the common folks are telling their stories visually, and it is talking to the common folks whose rattled nerves need soothing more than over stimulating.
So real, so relatable, so comforting. The story sticks.
Why not “Ford Encourages America to Finish Strong”?
Very noble, almost heroic, to portray the frontline pandemic fighters and what normalcy will be like: “soon we will be what we were — touching, loving, living.”
But it is the ASSOCIATION of it with Ford cars that is the problem: Will you then buy a Ford, rather than, say a Tesla, all things being equal, because of their donation of PPE?
Also, read the mood of the public: We are in a pandemic. We are seeking a break from watching the Super Bowl. We don’t want to be reminded, for a couple of hours, about dying people in hospitals, and we already know what normalcy is like.
What do all the top three ads we chose have in common?
First, genuine sensitivity to current CoronaVirus-related human conditions, without exploiting them. They relate to the COVID-19 hardships and uplift the human spirit.
Second, each ad focuses on one central theme and tells a straight-forward story in an honest and convincing manner. No forced connections or complicated plots.
Third, they’re customer centric: the people in the ads are the same ordinary people who are viewing them, in addressing OUR needs and dreams where the brands and products play a role, these three ads have true staying power after $5.6 million worth of 30 seconds.
My ending notes:
It is harder to be simple and focused. More stuff, more celebrity, more people, more drama, more plots, more actions… are NOT better but worse.
About the author
Joanne Tan is the founder and CEO of 10 Plus Brand, Inc., a full service, multi-media branding and brand-marketing agency. She is a brand strategist, brand builder, and marketing consultant leading teams of professionals to decode brand DNA, create brand structure, strategies and stories, and amplify brands digitally with AI enabled content marketing and digital marketing. 10 Plus Brand, Inc. partners with world experts in influencer marketing, digital marketing, and other renowned marketing leaders.
© Joanne Tan, edited by Susan Olson, David Leskin, 2021, all rights reserved.