Making Ad Magic – Fox Sports Insider
“Everyone loves the commercials,” Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield told me on Friday. “I remember getting almost as excited for that as for the game.”
Given that everyone from diehard football aficionados to even those with only a passing interest in the sport come together to enjoy and analyze the best ads, the pressure is on for advertisers to make the most of every second.
Great Super Bowl ads go down in folklore. Those that don’t hit the mark suffer the worst fate known to Madison Avenue: they are instantly forgotten.
“When it comes to the advertising world, the Super Bowl … is the Super Bowl,” Seth Winter, executive vice president of FOX Sports sales told me in a telephone conversation this week. “It is as big as it gets.”
In some ways, the bursts of commercials that break up the game are perfect for a modern audience accustomed to bite-sized chunks of entertainment.
Millions of dollars and thousands of hours of creative thought are invested into pieces of work that take up the briefest windows of time. The pressure to perform is on par with what the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs players are facing, albeit with less physical intensity.
“The Super Bowl is not for the weak of heart,” Winter said. “For a creative director, it can make or break their career. You need some cojones to put together a great Super Bowl campaign.”
Everyone has their own personal favorites. Some of the most widely acclaimed in history include the Old Spice classic from 2010, Cindy Crawford’s Pepsi moment in 1992, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird duking it out over a Big Mac and those subsequently irksome Budweiser frogs.
Anheuser-Busch, which makes Budweiser and Bud Light, has won USA TODAY’s Ad Meter (which judges the most popular ads) no fewer than 14 times, while the National Football League itself crushed it last year with its epic fight for a ball featuring 40 players from across generations.
As usual, there will be plenty of variety across the spots, from entertainment to goods and services, charitable calls to action and political messages. According to Winter, expect a lot of long-form spots this year, with more placements of above 30 seconds than those of the typical length.
“There is a lot of storytelling, and a lot of it is very uplifting,” Winter added. “That’s something that just always seems to work. If you can tug at someone’s heartstrings using that period of time that you have their attention — those are the ones that really do well. Being funny works. Nostalgia works. Family and community always works.
“There is emotion, humor, star power — you will see a lot of celebrities. Overall, it’s getting more and more creative. and this one will be the best ever in terms of creativity.”
Here’s what others have said …
Dade Hayes, Deadline: “If the commercial breaks on Sunday’s broadcast seem fewer but longer, you’re not imagining things. Fox decided to mix things up this year by coordinating with the NFL and eliminating one break per quarter, going from five to four. The overall volume of ads consistent with years past, and the “floater” time is expected to amount to about two-and-a-half-extra minutes of commercial time.”
Debika Sihi, Adweek: “It will be interesting to look back in another 20 years to see how the brands and ads of the 2020 Super Bowl compare to those featured in 2040. It’s possible how we watch and consume content will have changed very much in that time. As we go from dot-com to the Dolly Parton challenge, Super Bowl ads provide a visual and entertaining way to capture this chronology.”
Ken Wheaton, Fortune: “Over time, Americans may lose interest in the Super Bowl, but it hasn’t happened yet. And digital media now provides marketers more efficient ways to reach highly-targeted audiences to drive sales and conversions. But for now, the game still provides the sort of audience that marketers used to take for granted—100 million people, all leaning in to the same thing, at the same time.
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