Who doesn’t love a good Super Bowl ad?
I’ve known from a young age that I wanted to be in marketing — didn’t know it would be dental marketing though. The Super Bowl ads I saw every year growing up were a huge influence on my choice to get into advertising. I’ve always been fascinated by their sheer creativity and their ability to engage viewers in a way that creates a lasting impression. It is no mistake that Super Bowl commercials have become the gold standard in advertising, and we can all learn a little something from them.
The first Super Bowl was broadcast in 1967, and 30 seconds of ad space during the big game cost an average of $45,000. Nowadays, advertisers are spending $6.5 million to claim 30 seconds of airtime during the Super Bowl. Why such a high price tag? It all started in 1984 with Apple’s “1984” ad, which changed the entire Super Bowl advertising landscape. Because Apple’s innovative commercial created such a buzz, other advertisers began recognizing the Super Bowl as a prime opportunity to publicize their brands. Today, it is not uncommon for advertisers to spend most of their annual budgets on their Super Bowl ad alone. Super Bowl commercials have become so popular that, in some cases, people are watching the game just to see them. And it’s no wonder, since we can still remember some of the best ones 20, 30, 40 years later.
How do they do it?
The Super Bowl is the most watched television event in the United States. Last year, more than 96 million people tuned into the game. Other years, it’s been over 110 million. That’s a lot of potential customers. Advertisers figured out that if they didn’t want all those viewers to tune out during the commercials, they needed to make their ads just as interesting as the game. To do so, they employ a variety of strategies, such as developing unique characters, using celebrities, and appealing to our emotions.
Super Bowl ads have introduced us to some of our favorite characters, like the Budweiser Clydesdales, the Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” Lady, the E-trade baby, the Kia Hamsters, the Old Spice man. This year’s Kia ad with the electronic dog is an adorable way to promote its all-electric vehicle. Most of these characters are meant to be humorous, a few serious, but all of them make the product they are selling more “touchy feely”. And while dentists may not necessarily want their practice represented by a funny character, the lesson they can apply is that humanizing a product or service makes it more appealing.
Celebrities are another way the big advertisers make their Super Bowl commercials special. Who can forget Cindy Crawford in that iconic Pepsi ad or Betty White in the Snickers commercial? Featured in this year’s ads are huge names like Matthew McConaughey, Zendaya, Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen, Gwenyth Paltrow, Eugene Levy, Brie Larson, Steve Buscemi, Peyton Manning, and more. It’s a tried and true marketing strategy: celebrities add credibility to a product. While most of us are not friends with A-list celebrities, it’s not too unusual to know someone who is locally famous, and dentists who have well-known patients can perhaps use this same strategy in their own marketing.
Emotional commercials, whether they tickle your funny bone or tug on your heart strings, tend to be some of the favorites. Over the years, advertisers have shifted between humorous and serious commercials during the Super Bowl, depending on the general climate of the times. For instance, Budweiser (the unequivocal “king” of Super Bowl ads) has used funny characters, such as the frogs, but they’ve also used their ad time to salute American heroes. This year, Budweiser really amped up the“Awww” factor with a dog and a horse. Major advertisers have also used the Super Bowl as a platform to call attention to issues that go beyond their products, another way to appeal to our emotional side. Hellmann’s, for example, has used its ad time to raise awareness around food waste and did so again this year with its “Mayo vs. Mayo” ad featuring football coach Jordan Mayo. The lesson here is that if you can put genuine feeling into your marketing, you’re likely to leave a more lasting impression.
You don’t have to spend millions of dollars to create successful marketing. An effective advertising campaign resonates strongly with the intended target audience. Obviously, the major corporations understand this and use every tool they can to get us to watch their Super Bowl ads, hoping that theirs will be the ad everyone is talking about Monday morning. As small enterprises, dental practices can definitely try some of the same strategies, just on a much smaller budget.