Marketing for 2016: What Super Bowl Ads Have Taught Us
Even though over 77 million people use Wix to create a website, at our core, we still feel like a small startup. This is why we couldn’t be more excited to be airing our #StartStunning Wix spot during Super Bowl 50!
And while we may no longer be first-timers in this huge event, there is still tons to learn from past advertisers. We’ve watched just about every commercial that’s ever been made for the big game, and in doing so came to recognize some patterns. One major thing we’ve realized? There are a few different recipes for success. Over the years, brands have come up with ads that combine the different ingredients (listed below) and, much like baking, results can be delightful and delicious, or leave you with a less than pleasant taste in your mouth.
Whether you’re thinking up your own Super Bowl campaign or planning an upcoming sale for your online store, here are some themes to keep in mind:
Dogs Are Advertisers’ Best Friends
The formula goes something like this: place puppy (or other furry friend) in front of camera, hit record, edit (optional), then sit back and listen as the sighs of adoration roll in. While some may call it too obvious and others may even go so far as to deem it shameless – it’s pretty much proven to be effective 99% of the time. Check out this clip for a compilation of ‘Animal Bowl’ examples:
Ironically, with all these advertisers using animals for commercials, the one ad that was actually banned was Peta’s, an animal rights advocacy organization. If you’d like to see what was deemed taboo, have a look here.
A Sexy Ad May Backfire
Ever heard of the saying, “sex sells?” That’s because for the most part, it does. However, the growing sexualization of Super Bowl ads is something not everybody is happy about. In fact, since so many people find the use of these overt and sexist themes offensive, a social movement was born. In 2012 #NotBuyingIt spread like wildfire on Twitter, denouncing ads and the brands behind them for their blatant and disrespectful use of women as objects. Almost four years later, the campaign is going strong with an organic presence on multiple social networks, and even an app. All in all, some are saying that we may soon be seeing the end of sexism in advertising.
A subcategory of this genre is the “sexy funny” one, that allegedly takes the edge off the messaging. But it’s almost 2016, and we’re simply #NotBuyingIt. Here’s an example:
You Can Make People Cry But You’d Better Have A Good Reason
It’s been said that the most effective messages in advertising are done by evoking emotion in consumers. This may be true, but it can be very tricky to get right, and very easy to get wrong. When it’s done well, the message tends to stay with viewers much longer and the effect can be quite moving. We’ll let Bob Dylan and the commercial he shot with Chrysler in 2014 provide a poignant example:
As for an example of what to steer clear of? This ad from Super Bowl XLIX provides a pretty solid example:
Don’t Mess Up The Punch Line
Everyone enjoys a good laugh, so this category always scores big with the Super Bowl audience. However when it comes to the art of creating a successful and funny SB commercial, it’s not only about timing. There are a lot of different angles that can be used, and with most ads being only 30 seconds, it’s crucial to get it just right. More than a few brands have achieved this feat, making us laugh each and every time we view them (and we’ve viewed them way more than once). Check out a couple of hilarious examples:
There’s More Than One Way To Win The Super Bowl
Some companies have found clever ways to benefit from the Super Bowl hype without footing the bill. Old Spice, for example, aired their ad during the big game, but not on viewers’ TV screens. Instead, they launched their ad on YouTube – saving tons of money and going viral all in one go. Something tells us you’ll recognize THE Man your man could smell like:
Two years ago, during Super Bowl XLVIII, Esurance did something just as clever. They bought the first spot just after the Super Bowl, and aired their commercial as soon as the game ended. By doing so they saved 1.5 million dollars, which they put to good use. Take a look and see what we mean (it’s pretty genius):
Change the Formula Up
Some may adhere to the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ adage, but not all brands agree. Budweiser has come to be known for two things in their big game spots: Clydesdale horses and adorable puppies. While they won’t part with the Clydesdales, they’ve stated that the puppies won’t make it to their Super Bowl 50 spot (apparently the pups don’t impact beer sales). While they may not be changing gears entirely, here at Wix we’ve decided to take on an entirely fresh approach. Last year our #ItsThatEasy SB campaign debut was a hit – but we’ve already mapped out a completely new angle for our second go. Instead of pairing with a production company (like most Super Bowl advertisers), we’ve chosen instead to team with DreamWorks Animation. Po and the rest of the Kung Fu Panda gang will help us bring the Wix story to life, and in full animated-fashion.
Check out our brand new teaser:
And in case you missed it last year, here’s our #ItsThatEasy spot from Super Bowl XLIX:
By The Wix Team