For marketers, being involved in a Super Bowl ad is like something out of a dream.
But what is it that makes those Super Bowl Ads so incredibly engaging? It’s not the fact that they’re embedded within the Super Bowl, since we all know someone who only watches the game for the advertisements. That engagement comes from the increased care that brands take with their messages for that particular opportunity.
The 2017 Super Bowl Ad Line-up
The 2017 Super Bowl’s adverting line-up was a particularly interesting example of really excellent storytelling in marketing.
For the first time in several years, it wasn’t a few really engaging stories wedged in between television commercials trying harder and harder to be funny. Super Bowl ads this year were really focused on spinning a good yarn. The H&R Block spot was a really simple example of this.
Instead of taking a serious subject and making it funny or sappy or serious beyond belief, H&R Block talked about how the hero of the commercial, IBM’s Watson, was saving more money for customers, while splashing images of more bobsled rides and more birthday parties across the screen. Who wouldn’t want that? No outlandish claims, just completely relatable experiences everyone has had at some point.
Storytelling Beyond the Super Bowl
Of course, most companies aren’t going to be able to pony up the approximately $10 million dollar a minute money that it takes to buy just one Super Bowl ad.
That doesn’t mean you can’t tell a story or create engagement in this intimate way, though. In fact, your less-than-PepsiCo budget means that every sort of engagement matters, every time you design a marketing piece. Your Super Bowl happens every single time your ad runs, so you have to make them all really matter.
Storytelling is one of the most important tools you have in your arsenal, it’s even more important than humor or wit. Using storytelling techniques, you can create a relatable message that hits home with your target audience and really engages them.
Here are some top tips for creating a relatable story:
- Choose a suitable hero. Good storytelling is about heroes and villains and rising above strife. If you think of your target audience as your hero (and represent them in your story with a good, relatable figure) and the problem your company or product is trying to solve as the problem to resolve, you’re already most of the way there.
Your heroes can be literal or metaphorical, so long as your audience will respond to them.
- Make the struggle relatable. Sure, your product can probably solve a pretty intense problem, but the likelihood is that your audience will relate to it in an everyday fashion. Let’s say you’re promoting roadside assistance services, this is a pretty easy one to build into a story. Do you tell the story of the car that flipped three times because of a blow-out on the highway, or do you show a family with a flat tire?
Certainly, we all fear a blow-out, that’s something we know can happen, but very rarely does. However, we’ve all had to deal with flats, and boy are they troublesome. In fact, the only thing worse than having a flat tire is having a flat tire in the rain. When you write your content, don’t make it about the one in a million, make it about something your entire audience can relate to. Choose a struggle that affects three out of four, not one in a million.
- Show, don’t tell. Probably the most important rule for any sort of storytelling is “show, don’t tell.” You never tell parts of the story you can show!
When you’re working in a visual medium, show really means show. Get those raindrops nice and plump, show your family-in-distress thanking the man with the tow truck for changing their tire, demonstrate how they got to school on time despite it all. There has not been a time in modern marketing history when viewers would simply take your word for it. Show how your product works, show that it works, incorporate it into your story.
You don’t have to have a Super Bowl ad budget to rock a seriously engaging story for your brand. Instead of spending the big bucks on special effects or expensive commercial slots, invest in bigger brains that can help you weave a brilliant story from your product, service or company. Tell the story of your values or the story of your product or even the story of the founding of your product, just so long as you’re telling a story your audience will want to hear.