Op-Ed: How to Work in Advertising and Still Enjoy the Super Bowl Party

By Kiran Aditham 

While we’ve made it an annual tradition to post contributions from industry folks following the Super Bowl, we decided this time to get some thoughts in the days leading up to the game. Throughout this week, we’ll post some commentary from your peers on various Super Bowl-related topics. Hey, since it’s advertising’s big day, too, why not build some hype? First up to bat are Troy Scarlott and Jordan Atlas, SVP/ECDs at Ignited. Take it away, sirs.

With advertising’s big day rapidly approaching, a tremendous amount of discussion is underway about what to expect from the upcoming Super Bowl ads. Most of the talk seems to have fallen around the following topics; Does releasing your spot prior to the big day help to ignite more interest and awareness, or does it only serve to undercut the value that an audience gets from first seeing it on Sunday?


Appearances from GoDaddy, KIA and H&M will help fuel the ongoing debate about whether or not sex sells (our two cents: Sex doesn’t sell. It titillates, for sure, but unless you can recreate that same racy subject matter within the last ten feet of the purchase funnel, you will most likely be left taking a cold shower when it comes to sales. Finally, does the proliferation of :60 commercials signal the return of storytelling? Again, our two cents says that while storytelling at times has been MIA or at least difficult to track down, it never really went away and thus can’t be returning. More time should only be bought if more time is needed to enhance the idea. Put another way, you don’t need more time to tell a good story, you just need a good story.

The focus of most of this discussion is on what the general population will see, feel and ultimately do with the ads shown during the big game. While this is certainly an important group of people, it occurred to us that there is a smaller, but no less significant, segment of our population that tends to go unrepresented on Super Bowl Sunday. We are of course talking about that elusive demographic affectionately known as “The Lone Advertising Professional Stuck at the Super Bowl Party Watching The Ads With a Group of Non-Advertising Professionals.”

When we say advertising professional, we mean everyone and anyone who is in advertising, regardless of department or capability.

The people at the Super Bowl party not involved in advertising, don’t really care about your title, tenure or talent. A hard line is drawn directly down the middle of every Super Bowl party; you’re either one of those who watch the ads or you’re one of those who make the ads. Regardless of whether you have, or ever have had a commercial on the Super Bowl, being the only ad person at the party means you are singularly responsible for every cent of that multi-million dollar commercial break.

And since the only thing worse than not having an ad during the Super Bowl, is being held accountable for the ones who do, solely because you work in the same field, we’ve compiled a few tricks of the trade to help ensure that the Super Bowl party you attend can be more enjoyable for everyone, especially you.

Be charmingly “in the know”

The expectation is that the ad guy knows more about what’s happening than the non-ad guy. This is both true and entertaining so take advantage of this position for as long as you can. Casual remarks should be both “inside” enough to intrigue your fellow guests, yet inclusive enough as to not isolate your audience. For example you might say; “ If Coke really wanted to showcase how innovative and dynamic their spot(s) were, they should have figured out a way to put Adriana Lima right between those two polar bears since she’s in every other ad.” (NOTE: This kind of comment works best if delivered after both her KIA ad and her Teleflora ad have already run and some casual discussion has occurred about what Coke has planned.)

But not too “in the know”

At some point in the evening, your fellow partygoers will inevitably deem a certain ad the best of the night even though you know for a fact that it has been done a million times before. Proceed cautiously. Just because they lack your encyclopedic knowledge of every ad that has ever run, doesn’t mean they actually give a crap. USA Today doesn’t have an Ad Guy Douche Meter (not yet at least) but too many utterances of ‘that’s been done before” will secure you a top spot on that unofficial list.

Play the “digital” card

After the fourth or fifth time that you are forced to tell someone why you and your agency don’t have a Super Bowl spot this year, feel free to play the “digital” card. Talk about how you’ve strategically advised your clients to take a more ROI-focused approach to maximize their budgets by focusing on SEO, retargeting, blogger outreach and content curation in order to build brand loyalty and affinity through their online community. This will impress absolutely no one but it’s impossible to adequately explain all of this during a typical commercial break so you will ultimately be saved by the game coming back on.

Challenge the self-proclaimed expert

Eventually, there is going to be someone at the party that says they could have done that ad. With any luck, this remark will come after a Doritos spot which will make it ok for you to say; “you DID do that ad” or at least a “you like object” did it. This will get the conversation going about user-generated advertising and whether the experts should be the only ones creating for the big stage. We recommend you use this as an opportunity to get another drink, hopefully in another room.

In case of emergency, lie (you are in advertising after all)

The fact that you haven’t created any advertising on the one day people actually care about advertising will surely become too much to bear. Feel free to lie, you are in advertising for heaven’s sake. We recommend subtly alluding to a huge project for a beloved brand that will definitely be on next year’s Super Bowl, among other things. The upside is that there is no chance you will ever see that person again since you rarely see the same people at Super Bowl parties year after year. Of course, even if you do run into them again, the odds of he or she remembering what you said are pretty small since they will most likely go back to ignoring advertising 364 days out of the year.

As the two ad guys who will most certainly be the only ad guys at our respective Super Bowl parties, we are looking forward, with great anticipation to the amazing competition, both during the game and during the breaks. Hopefully, these insider tips provide you with a little bit of assistance come Sunday. And please let us know how your Super Bowl party goes. We’ll look forward to hearing all about what we can add to this list for next year.