How We Think

4 Free Tips From Million-Dollar Super Bowl Ads

Even if you don’t plan on dropping $4 million for a 30-second spot in next year’s Super Bowl, it’s worth noting what makes for a successful ad. We broke down our favorites into tips that you can apply in your own marketing.

1. Get at the Why   
Microsoft: Empowering
Move over Apple, Microsoft just upped its game! As “why” evangelists, we loved that this ad answered questions: Why should we care about technology? What’s it doing besides turning us into robots? A lot actually, says Microsoft with a montage of moments that bring you to tears. It cures deaf ears, restores eyesight, and lets a military man witness the birth of his son. Well done.

2. Be Authentic
Coca-Cola: America is Beautiful
It’s what everyone is craving these days… an accurate depiction of real life. Not some over-curated, unrealistic, Photoshopped perfection. Real, gritty, may-cause-controversy authenticity. And props to Coca-cola for continuing to air the ad during the Olympics despite the backlash received after the Super Bowl.

3. Add Sass (and a dash of diversity)
Cheerios: “Gracie”
Again, we’re loving the companies who stuck their necks out to portray diversity. Plus, this little girl’s got sass, and it produced one of those rare moments of true humor in a commercial.

4. Use the Power of the Pause
Dodge: Farmer
Though it aired in 2013, my all-time favorite deserves a revisit. Dodge reserved 2 whole minutes for a slideshow of still photographs set to the pre-recorded, 1978 audio of a Paul Harvey speech. Sandwiched between high-energy ads for soft drinks and snack foods, it caused rooms full of chattering people who were knee-deep in queso dip to go silent. Among the noise, this one could not be ignored.

Go forth, and infuse these million-dollar ideas into your own marketing. Who knows, maybe you’ll hit it big and actually score a spot during next year’s big game.