It is clear from reading lists of Super Bowl ad “hits and misses” that many reflect a person’s opinion about which commercials they liked and why. From a marketing standpoint, it’s critical to distinguish between a consumer’s subjective assessment of the ads they “enjoy” and a strategist’s objective assessment of the effectiveness of an advertisement. This is what I mean by “removing the consumer hat and donning the strategist’s hat.”
A marketer’s perspective on great advertising is different from a consumer’s perspective. Consumers frequently view entertaining advertisements as positive. It doesn’t matter to them whether they recall the brand name, much less anything else about the brand. As a result, evaluations of consumer response, like USA Today’s Ad Meter, frequently depend on likability and popularity. Furthermore, consumer rating systems frequently do not restrict response to the goal. This presents issues since, for instance, men might rate feminine hygiene goods and vice versa. Or perhaps women are rating a beverage that is intended for men. Only the target audience is intended for when creating advertisements.
Popularity and likeability are frequently not marketers’ top priorities; rather, they prefer to concentrate on meaningfully enhancing the brand and company. It is unclear what value likability holds if it doesn’t result in increased consumer affect and/or purchasing behaviour.
Although there are numerous techniques to assess an advertisement’s strategic potency, I’ll only highlight three here.
1) The advertisement effectively and succinctly conveys some aspect of the product’s or service’s competitive advantage. Google’s “Fixed on Pixels” advertisement is one of the best this year for delivering on this dimension. The entire advertisement emphasises the advantage of being able to “edit” images by deleting particular elements from them. Another example of this was Hyundai’s “Smaht Pahk” (from the 2020 Super Bowl) which focused on the car’s ability to park itself.
It should come as no surprise that brands are more likely to persuade customers to consider (and purchase) them when they emphasise the special value they provide for them. And this directly relates to the corporate objective of raising revenue and customer affinities.
The drama in the advertisement is relevant to the good or service. Although it seems simple, many brands really overlook this aspect. It is simple to tell a humorous or compelling tale that is not directly related to the product, which causes it to become a distraction. The Doritos “Jack’s New Angle” advertisement from this year is an illustration of how to effectively link the dramatic elements of the story to a distinguishing aspect of the product.The entire advertisement is focused on the new angle, which is a triangle, which is uncannily similar to the shape of a Doritos chip. Another illustration is the drama “We All Win” by Weather Tech, which is entirely focused on the difficulties of manufacturing in the United States, where Weather Tech sources its products. The manufacture of Weather Tech and Doritos, respectively, are distinguishing characteristics of their brands, and the drama in the advertisements emphasised this.
The “Super Bowl 2023” advertisement for M&M, in contrast, featured candy-coated clam nibbles. This is an extension of a prank that started with tweets days before the Super Bowl and ended with another advertisement during the game. Many customers are probably unaware of the ongoing plot, and if you view the advertisement alone, it doesn’t connect the drama to anything truly special or differentiating about the product. After the commercials ended, a friend asked me, “What was the M&M’s commercial about?” After investing millions of dollars on an advertisement, that is often not the answer you desire. Of course, there is a danger that it won’t inspire customers to desire to purchase the item.
The commercial entertains and engages viewers in a way that increases remember. The difficulty in coming up with effective Super Bowl advertising rests in this. They must not only be easily understood, with the drama centred on a compelling point of differentiation, but they must also stand out from the competition through high entertainment and engagement value. I was able to clearly recall Hyundai’s “Smaht Pahk” advertisement from two years ago because it was successful in generating humour that was both very engaging and at the time concentrated on “wow” innovation.
This year’s Pepsi Zero Sugar commercials featuring two explosive celebrities, Steve Martin and Ben Stiller, provided amusement by making fun of actors and acting. Bud Light’s “Hold,” which turns the agony of waiting on hold into an opportunity to dance and drink a Bud Light, is another advertisement that is receiving great recognition for its high entertainment value.
While achieving just one of the aforementioned requirements is simpler, achieving all three in a single :30 second spot is rather challenging. The Hyundai commercial from 2020 is an example that meets all three requirements: drama that emphasises a distinct point of uniqueness and is conveyed in a style that is engaging, amusing, and memorable.
Many ads resonate with consumers, but they don’t inspire or motivate a purchase — or deepen or change how consumers feel about the brand. And this is the very high standard that marketers hold themselves to. While many lists of great Super Bowl ads will focus on which generated buzz or were most popular—often to people outside of the target—the final test of a successful Super Bowl ad is whether it strengthens the brand and business.