3 Simple Lessons Marketers Can Take Away From Super Bowl Ads

Marketers: We hope your eyeballs were glued to the Super Bowl ads last night – there are some lessons you can learn from the advertisers that plunked down millions of dollars to get fans to pay attention to their brand.  

The Washington Post reports that a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl cost approximately $4 million. Don’t have that kind of coin to shell out on marketing? You don’t have to. It doesn’t take a multimillion-dollar budget to win over your customers.

Marketers of any size can borrow a few plays from the mega-corporations that ran a commercial during the Super Bowl. Here are three simple lessons to be learned from those big-ticket Super Bowl ads:

1. Tell a story with video.

Many Super Bowl spots are like mini movies, played out in less than a minute. These advertisers have nailed the art of visual storytelling. They rope in the audience by using humor, sex appeal, or tugging on people’s heartstrings.

Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” spot was crowned the 2014 Ad Meter winner, USA Today’s consumer-judged Super Bowl commercial competition. The ad went viral on YouTube a week before the game.

Is your business using video to tell captivating stories? Instead of a whitepaper or slideshow, try using video to explain the ideas in a fresh, visually appealing way.

2. Harness the power of intrigue.

Super Bowl advertisers (most of them, anyway) have mastered how to capitalize on viewers’ curiosity. They create commercials that gather people around the TV and have them wanting to see what’s going to play out next.

Take, for example, Bud Light’s “Whatever Happens Next” commercial. The brand aired the first 30 seconds of the spot, which takes a random guy on a wild ride if he promises to be “up for whatever happens next,” and aired the rest of the story as a 60-second ad in the second half.

The spot undoubtedly had a Hangover-esque feel, with a hidden camera following the guy into a limo filled with attractive women, and then through a series of crazy events including an elevator ride with Don Cheadle and hilariously, a llama, and a ping-pong match with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Did Bud Light keep everyone on their toes with this spot? Absolutely. It was fun, captivating and wildly entertaining. The lesson here is that your marketing should always aim to excite. If it wouldn’t make you take a second look, your audience probably won’t be interested either.

3. Embrace social media.

Hashtags were used in a record-breaking 57% of nationally run Super Bowl spots, up from 50% in 2013. Why are hashtags so powerful in marketing campaigns? Because people can use them across various social media channels. By using hashtags, advertisers are inviting fans to engage in post-ad commentary on Facebook and Twitter.

Just look at Esurance, the online insurance company that’s giving away $1.5 million in a Twitter sweepstakes to someone who uses the hashtag #EsuranceSave30. It’s a brilliant way to get people tweeting about the company.

You want people to talk about your brand, and hashtags keep the conversation going where your customers are social. Create a hashtag for your next promotion, and use it to not only track the promo, but to create a firestorm in social media.

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