Monday, July 28, 2014

Super Bowl MVP: The commercials

The downtime spent in-between the action of the big game gives companies the opportunity to leave their mark

It occurred to me as I viewed the second most-watched annual sporting event worldwide that the commercials capture the audience more than the greatest game-changing play. Nothing holds the attention of an audience more than a library being destroyed over America’s favorite cookie, or a GoDaddy technician having the best day of his life.

As for me, the Wounded Warrior Project commercial was high on the list. As someone who would like to serve in the armed forces in the future, I am truly appreciative of how much Wounded Warrior does for the soldiers who have given a part of themselves just to keep this country free.

Dodge — By relating the toughness of farmers to their trucks, the company pulled off a successful commercial. YouTube

However, one of the most talked, tweeted and texted about commercials for the Super Bowl was Dodge’s “God Made a Farmer.” According to Tim Nudd of Adweek, this commercial did what every commercial should strive to do.

“In the forum of the Super Bowl, it’s all about leaving an impression,” Nudd said. “This ad’s beautiful craft held 100 million viewers rapt — a worthy beginning to a worthy campaign, and the night’s best spot.”

Leaving an impression is colossal when it comes to success. It is the Holy Grail for advertisers in terms of profitable marketing, and Dodge did just that. In a time of political upheaval, budget cuts and tragic events, the simple message of good old fashion values found a niche in the hearts of millions.

For the vast majority of viewers, advertisements make the Super Bowl what it is. Apple’s 1984 commercial, which introduced one of the most successful computers, is credited with changing the public’s perception of the once-failing company. Since then, characters such as the E-Trade baby, the Budweiser Clydesdales and countless other characters have proved to be entertaining and memorable.

“For many viewers, staying tuned to the Super Bowl is far more about watching the ads than the game itself,” Norman Mintle, Liberty University’s dean for the School of Communication, said. “This year’s game provided great second-half drama and almost a comeback for the ages.”

For sure, many will remember the enjoyable commercials that added a sense of levity and joint laughter to an otherwise tense and possibly divided room atmosphere. But do these commercials pay off in the end?

“Beyond the question of any entertainment value, the mostly exquisite production values poured into these $4 million spots or the record-breaking cost of airtime, one must wonder about the overall effect on our culture,” Mintle said.

Looking at the numbers, the money these companies fork out is incredible.

According to Mental Floss, a bimonthly magazine, Apple’s Super Bowl commercial cost just short of $1 million. According to Business Insider, a Super Bowl commercial in 2009 cost $3 million. Within three years, that number jumped an extra $1 million.

So what does this mean for our culture? Why are businesses willing to pay a premium for just 30 seconds? It has been proven to work.

According to Mental Floss, Apple sales skyrocketed following the commercial, which critics say started the Super Bowl commercial craze as we know it. E-Trade has garnered a larger clientele than ever before with the “E-trade baby.” Not many can argue the effect that the Budweiser Clydesdales have on the American public, especially with the tribute they made to 9/11 during the 2002 Super Bowl game.

Certainly, these companies put a lot of faith into their marketing teams, hoping that their creative juices are flowing like the Mississippi River. Some are blessed with a flood of ideas, while others can be caught up in a drought.

Dodge’s idea to honor the farmers who work day in and day out spoke volumes to me. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” inadequately describes the imagery featured in that commercial. Paul Harvey’s commentary was powerful, striking a cord with the values that make up this great nation.

The Super Bowl provides a unique challenge for marketing teams to put their heads together and whip up something original. The way they go about that is totally up to them. Whether they end up being successful depends entirely on the audience — forming the love-hate relationship between advertiser and buyer.

So for now, Apple’s 1984 commercial is still regarded as the best. Year after year, companies show us all they have to offer in creativity and innovation. Thankfully, all we have to do is sit back, watch, laugh and maybe, just maybe, actually remember the company who made the commercial.

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