Once upon a time, the advertising stars had to align to produce a Super Bowl commercial. Now everyone’s doing it. And by everyone, I don’t mean every person at an ad agency. I mean every American who can fill out an entry form and upload a YouTube video.
You see, the latest trend in Super Bowl advertising is the consumer-generated TV spot (just ask Doritos or Chevy). So, as a public service, I’d like to share some tried-and-true techniques of past Super Bowl advertising with this new generation of ad makers.
Let’s start with the obvious: Kicks in the groin are always funny. Especially if they’re delivered by a senior citizen or, better yet, a baby.
Speaking of babies, it’s always good to have your babies speak. Such past examples are the talking baby for Freeinternet.com, the talking baby for Quiznos and, in its latest incarnation, the talking baby for E*TRADE.
Don’t like babies? Not to worry. How about babes? Because if you can base your commercial around a pretty woman in a bra and panties, even if you’re not selling bras and panties, you’re a shoo-in for a top 20 placement on the USA Today popularity list.
Celebrities are another shortcut to popularity. But as an advertising outsider, you probably can’t afford a Kardashian, a Baldwin brother or even a Betty White. So you might want to try the borrowed interest’s second cousin, twice removed—generally referred to as the movie parody. The Social Network, Bridesmaids and Twilight are all ripe for your product placement. (You should probably avoid Star Wars, as Volkswagen seems to own that cultural icon at the moment.)
For those with more ambitious storytelling desires, I’d also recommend the “great adventure in search of the product” technique. The math is simple: Ordinary guy performs an extraordinary act of bravery to get A) a soft drink, B) a potato chip, or C) a date with a pretty girl… who just happens to be waiting for him in a bra and panties.
Follow my advice and your commercial will practically write itself. Probably because it’s already been written and you’re only retracing someone else’s steps.
The truth is, all the techniques I’ve mentioned are sacred cows. You’re better off avoiding them and doing something that hasn’t been done before.
Yup, that’s hard. Even if you write commercials for a living. So if that fails, then by all means have one character kick another in the groin. It may be an old joke. But according to focus groups, it’s always funny.
by David Bernstein