Laughing all the way to the bank

Planit Agency
January 31, 2014

So here we are almost a year later and I, like many people, am eagerly anticipating Super Bowl Sunday. This is a big day for advertising. This is the ultimate stage for companies to perform on—well, pay to perform on. And they pay quite handsomely at that. The grand total for a 30-second spot this year during the big game is running just around $4 million [record scratch, everyone stops dancing and stares in disbelief]. Yes! That’s $4 million that can either be well spent, leaving the 100 million or so people watching the game scrambling to share it across multiple social media platforms… or taking to those same social media platforms to rant about how awful the spot was. Now more than ever it is crucial for a traditional television spot to be well received to make the expenditure a worthwhile one with more and more companies channeling significant funds toward the digital landscape, specifically social media. This challenge is both exciting and daunting. An agency responsible for creating a Super Bowl ad walks the line between showcasing their best work and earning praise for their client… and subjecting themselves and their client to widespread scrutiny. So what’s the “it” factor that dubs a $4 million 30-second spot “money well spent”? I believe, as always, it stems from knowing your audience, which can be tricky. Except when you’re creating a Super Bowl ad—in that case: Just be FUNNY! Yes, the demographics of the viewers are pretty diverse when it comes down to it, but the majority of them have a few things in common: They’ve been drinking, they’re watching football, and everyone loves a mindless laugh. Have you ever heard the saying “laughter spreads like wildfire”? It’s true, and as laughter spreads, so do your brand and message. With an extensive variety of comedic approaches from slapstick, to awkward moments, to the clever and just plain weird, certain companies nail it while others fall flat. Over the past three years, Doritos has identified itself as a leader in the clever and bizarre approach with its “Crash the Super Bowl” ad competition, holding contests for fans to submit their own commercials to be featured such as 2012’s “Man’s Best Friend” and 2013’s “Goat for Sale.” This year is no exception with social media channels overflowing with voting for the five finalists. Reigning champs such as Bud Light, Doritos, and E*Trade are going to have fierce competition this year with new players such as SodaStream and Dannon Oikos yogurt vying for a piece of the action. Oikos is already seeing a wildly positive reaction (no doubt thanks to some serious ’90s nostalgia) to its Full House–themed spot featuring John Stamos, Dave Coulier and Bob Saget in pajamas discussing their unchanged roommate situation. Though the high stakes and big players may be daunting for clients and agencies alike, it’s a perfect storm for fans—who know that blood, sweat, and tears will undoubtedly produce some really great ads. And some really awful ads. Either way, everyone will have plenty to say—both online and off—once the dust settles.