Here’s What Makes a Great Super Bowl Ad

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This is a guest post by David Warschawski, CEO and founder of Warschawski.

America has a love affair with Super Bowl advertising. But too often it is a misguided affair that belies a fundamental misunderstanding of what makes an ad great.

So what actually makes for great Super Bowl advertising, and where do most Americans and almost all the polls that rank SB spots go wrong?

The short answer is that there is a big difference between good entertainment and a great commercial. Just because it entertained the masses or made the majority of people laugh or smile does not make it a great ad. Good entertainment yes — but not necessarily a good commercial.

Great advertisement by its definition wants to create a winning perception about a product or service within the mind of a specific target audience and/or it wants to move that specific target audience to take an action. Ultimately, a great commercial wants to create an emotional connection with a specific target audience – whether that audience is defined by demographics (e.g. 35-45 year old white collar males making more than $75K a year) or by psychographics (e.g. women who want to be socially conscious and healthy about what they feed their families).

All marketing communications is subjective and is always interpreted through the eyes of the receiver. That’s why great marketers overwhelmingly care about their primary and secondary target audience’s reaction. So if an ad is targeting 20-something males, then that same commercial should not be appealing to their mothers as well. Trying to be everything to everyone is a bad approach to marketing, yet this is often how we judge who created the best Super Bowl ad.

Remember, just because people were entertained by something, doesn’t mean the spot created an emotional connection that will move the target audience to do something, or that it created a winning position in their mind. In fact, often the opposite can be true. If you find a blanket way to entertain the masses with your 30 seconds of fame, you might actually alienate the specific target audience with whom you wanted to make an emotional connection.

So how should we judge whether a Super Bowl ad was great or not, and how can companies ensure that they are wisely spending their $5 million for a 30-second spot? Below is our company’s proprietary approach that we use to measure the success of any advertisement or marketing piece. We call it the Warschawski BEST Model, and we score each category on a scale of 1-10.

  • BRAND-CENTRIC — Does it reinforce the brand and what makes the brand unique?
  • EMOTIONAL CONNECTION — Does it make an emotional connection?
  • STAND OUT — Does it stand out from its competitors and is it memorable?
  • TARGET ACHIEVED — Does it have a clear target audience and does it achieve a business goal with that target?

Hopefully, this year when you’re watching the Super Bowl, you can impress your friends by explaining what really made for a great advertisement and why you rated a specific spot as BEST.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAYEAAAAJGFjYjM5NDJkLTAyODgtNDNlYi1hZmZmLWEzODM0YzMyNTQ5OQDavid Warschawski is CEO and founder of Warschawski, a national full-service marketing communications agency recognized for its branding and brand building expertise. Warschawski has been named “U.S. Small Agency of the Year” 3 years in a row and has won more than 200 industry awards for its work.

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