How to Grasp Your Audience Like You’re Writing a Super Bowl Commercial

super bowl

There’s only one day a year we don’t hate commercial breaks. Football fans and non-fans alike chatter through the game and hush the room at the first sign of a brief advertisement hiatus. “Best and Worst Super Bowl Ads of [Insert Year Here]” articles pop up online before the game even ends.

Why are we so obsessed with 120-second intervals of marketing binge sessions? Because, once a year, there is hope of finding a commercial we’ll never forget.

We’re always looking for entertainment, a few laughs, maybe, and a situation to connect to. Maybe there really is a product we might actually consider looking into splurging on (the reason I never watch T.V. before dinner, in fear of opening my GrubHub app before I can talk myself out of it). There are a lot of reasons we pay attention to certain commercials and get up to grab a snack during others. What’s the difference?

The ads we remember are the ones writers poured over, and really poured over, for months before the ideas even reach marketing executives. Marketers aren’t always writers – some specialize in other creative outlets, which works just as well depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. What many often neglect to acknowledge is that successful writers, no matter your platform, are all marketing “experts.” (I use quotation marks because literary agents would be without careers if all writers really were legitimate experts in marketing, I’m just throwing this out there.)

As a writer, whether you’re a journalist, blogger (for goodness sake, there IS a difference), novelist, advertiser, playwright, wherever you fall, you have to know how to sell your product (article, blog, book, you get the idea). Super Bowl ads are the perfect example in this “teaching moment.” Let’s use a simple product review article as an example. How can we write an article that’s just as … everything … as a Super Bowl commercial?

Give the Audience Something to Relate To

I love Planet Fitness commercials because they’re trying to reach the same sort of market I do when I write articles for College Lifestyles™, but that’s not the only reason. These ads (like this one) tackle relatable issues like “gymtimidation” – reasons someone might not want to buy a gym membership. When I write with college students as my audience, I’m prone to mention busy schedules, Ramen noodles or attempted all-nighters because these are things this particular audience can relate to. Give them something to make them feel like it’s worth their time to keep watching.

Tell a Story

As I mentioned above, we love to be entertained, or to pull at your heartstrings, pathos pathos pathos. This Google Chrome commercial gets me. Not because I’m a dad (obv), nor do I have children (or a boyfriend for that matter … what?) but because it tells the story of a little girl growing up. Think of this as like a short story watered down to a few paragraphs and woven throughout an article about Super Bowl snacks (just an example). Why do you keep reading a book? Why do you watch till the end of that commercial that caught your eye? Because you want to know how the story ends.

Focus on Reasons Someone Needs Your Product/Service

My favorite commercials are the ones that are singularly product-focused. In some cases, commercials that compare one product to an other to emphasize superiority, work. I prefer ones that say, “Here’s what will probably happen if you don’t at least consider purchasing this (potentially) necessary item.” This commercial is another one of my favorites (again, not because I’m a dad … sigh, you get the point) because it gets that point across. Sort of. Remember those Mac vs. PC commercials? Did they ever work for you? Maybe I’m a little biased on that one.

Keep these points in mind while you’re picking your favorite Super Bowl commercial of 2015 this afternoon. Why is it your favorite? Could you relate to it? Were you captivated by its story? Did that marketing team really nail that sale? Or maybe your favorite will be a Taco Bell commercial, just because you love Taco Bell. I won’t judge you.

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