Super Bowl Commercials: Good or Bad?Every year, the audience for the Super Bowl continues to expand, and every year, marketing and advertising professionals compete to be the best.  With the audience now at around 120 million viewers, marketers look to the Super Bowl to raise the most awareness for their advertising.  The only problem is that sometimes they just try too hard.

With the advertising slot costing around $4 million per 30-seconds, the stakes are pretty high.  This price, of course, does not include production.

So, what makes a great Super Bowl ad?

While there is conflicting information, advertising science has shown that great advertisements do a few things that insure they rise above the rest.

First, they must be a reflection of the culture.

This is why you see many advertisements show nods to farmers, soldiers, and the American way of life.  This year was no exception to that rule.  Among this year’s advertisers to do this were Audi, Carmax, and Jeep.  The Jeep commercial is one that really stood out as being an inspiration to the journey of life.  Although, I do not think this was the best commercial, it showed the person’s ability to challenge the status quo and seek individualism.  Audi, with their “Doberhuahua” advertisement, was creative and played into the familiarity of seeking the perfect combination of attributes wanted in a car.  Also, well, it was just funny.

Second, they must entertain.

People are usually drawn to commercials that tell a story or make them laugh.  One of the best in this category was Chevy’s commercial, “Life.” This ad was simple overall, with a woman watching a sunrise while riding with her husband. However, it was more than that.  It was an advertisement to support the American Cancer Society and ended with the powerful phrase to support those “on the road to recovery.”

On the other end of the spectrum was another emotion, humor.  Several commercials were funny, but I loved the Heinz Ketchup commercial!  It took the ordinary concept of tapping the bottom of your ketchup bottle into a moment of happiness as people hummed the familiar “if you’re happy and you know it…” childhood song.

Lastly, they must get you to want to use their product.

A commercial is not effective if it doesn’t intrigue you to want to learn more, or purchase.  The winners in this category were pretty effective.  I, personally, loved the T-Mobile ads featuring Tim Tebow.  It was relevant, clear and comical in a way that got the point across… having a contract is not good!  It was well played and well written.  They even followed up the last quarter with an anti-ad, that was just text and no music stating that they were non-conformists, so no contract. Bravo!

I do have to state which one was my favorite, which embodied all three elements.  RadioShack has had some rough years.  I have had them on my “watch” list, and I have discussed failing strategies and dissected their business in class.  However, they owned up to that on Super Bowl Sunday, having the 80’s call and reclaim their store.  The icons of the 80’s showed up and wiped the store clean, stating that they wanted people to realize there was a “new” RadioShack that is updated and here for customers.  I checked out their website right after the commercial, and indeed, it seems that they have been preparing for changes. Will it work? Can they be saved?  I don’t know, but this advertisement was a confession to America that they know they need to change, now they just have to do it.

What did you think? Was the $4 million price tag worth it?  Which was your favorite?

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor offers degrees in marketing. Would you like an education for life in an award-winning Christian university? Stop by for a visit, and find out if UMHB is right for you.