It’s easy to get caught up in the hype about Super Bowl commercials, but at $5 million per 30-second spot, we think advertisers shouldn’t settle for people talking about their brand the next day, they should achieve top-line growth. So here are the TRIGGERS® five principles from our Advertisers’ “Playbook” to ensure that our clients get the most bang for their buck(s):
1. It’s not just about entertainment, it’s about elevating brand perception
Michelob must’ve dropped a mint on their “Perfect Fit” commercial, starring super-buff, superhero Chris Pratt, playing an egomaniacal version of himself. The spot follows Pratt as he pumps iron, brags about his new gig, and yet curiously never mentions Ultra’s main selling point—that its low calorie/low carb formulation helps him keep fit. The spot is entertaining, but the viewer doesn’t learn anything about how the beer tastes, whether it’s responsible for Pratt’s abs of steel, or why he suddenly wants his own beer truck. Pratt is handsome and charming, but will it help Michelob’s bottom line? We predict not.
2. It’s not about conversation, it’s about conversion
Agencies want their spots to be the topic of conversation, but trending on Twitter doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve created an effective commercial. Super Bowl ads may generate a lot of “likes,” but twenty years of CEM case studies show that liking a brand bears no relationship to sales. When these commercials are done well, they can be life-changing for a brand. Apple’s iconic “1984” spot for its new line of computers provided both conversation and conversion, with millions of consumers ditching their old PCs for the then-new-fangled Mac.
3. It’s about more than building up your brand, it’s about removing barriers
Tech commercials are nothing new for the ‘Bowl, but Wixdid something genius when they bought the first of three successive Super Bowl ads in 2014. Instead of using sexy spokesmodels like Go Daddy or Apple’s feature-film style scenarios, Wix addressed the barrier that prevents people from using them, head on. Realizing that most of us find the idea of building a website intimidating—a major obstacle to purchase—the brand hired retired football players to illustrate the ease of building a site using Wix. Paired with a simple tagline—“It’s that easy”—the brand exploded, reporting a 54% growth in revenue in a three-month period.
4. It’s not about just getting a laugh, it’s about serious growth.
Even though many viewers consider the commercials a high point of the game, studies show 80% of Super Bowl ads don’t spur any increase in sales. That’s because emotion—whether it’s making consumers laugh or cry—doesn’t translate to growth unless it organically links back to the brand. For example, the teaser for this year’s M&M spot shows beloved curmudgeon Danny Devito blissfully lolling about in a pool of melted chocolate—a chocolate lover’s fantasy. By combining the trifecta of humor, fantasy, and a solid (well, melted) connection back to the brand, two decades of research into consumers’ subconscious has shown that this M&M ad is a guaranteed success.
5. You don’t want your product to be famous for 15 minutes, you are in this to win it.
Do you want an ad that makes your creative team famous, or do you want an ad that makes your brand famous? Chrysler took a chance and spent $12.4 million to film a simple, but iconic, commercial showing rapper Eminem driving through Detroit. As much a love letter to the city as it was an ad for the car, Wieden + Kennedy’s two-minute spot achieved success on an artistic level, along with a sales jump for Chrysler to the tune of 50% over the next couple years. This spot is next-level because it starts off in your face, splintering consumer preconceptions—that an automotive brand based in Detroit can’t possibly produce a truly high end car, asking: “What does a town that’s been to hell and back know about luxury?” It quickly becomes clear that the city is a metaphor for the brand. As the shots shift back and forth between scenes of the city, its hard-working residents, and the sleek lines of the vehicle, we’re rooting for these underdogs. We’re on their side! By the time Eminem slips out of his ride, walks into the beautiful old theater, and strolls up the aisle to join a gospel choir, we’re full-on believers—in Detroit, its inhabitants, and Chrysler.
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Leslie Zane is founder and president of the TRIGGERS®, a growth strategy consulting firm that helps clients change minds to deliver disruptive growth.