Advertising agencies are working with multiple platforms to capture and maintain the attention of viewers watching the Super Bowl this year. As our interview with JWT‘s Matt MacDonald reveals, it’s no simple task for ads to match the level of spectacle that viewers have come to expect. However, by understanding some of the well-established underlying trends that shape major events, whether it’s the Grammies or the Super Bowl, there are some interesting ways advertisers can engage viewers before and after the game is broadcast.
Tell us about your role at JWT and what you’re working on right now.
I’m an Executive Creative Director overseeing Macy’s and Smirnoff. Right now, I’m working on everything from a reality show for Macy’s, to a follow-up of last year’s Nightlife Exchange Project for Smirnoff. The Macy’s brand idea is “The Magic of Macy’s,” and it’s all about the amazing entertainment, fashion, and people that have made Macy’s America’s most iconic department store. Smirnoff’s global campaign is “Be There” and it’s based on the idea that there are amazing, once-in-a-lifetime nights happening all over the world. As a brand, we’re interested in making more of those nights happen with the help of our consumers.
What are the most important trend(s) that will shape the Super Bowl viewing experience this year? Are they any different from those that we saw last year?
The biggest trend I’ve seen so far is the number of advertisers extending the story beyond the thirty or sixty seconds they bought on the Super Bowl. This past weekend, we saw our first glimpse of Ferris Bueller’s return for Honda. VW’s teaser went viral. I haven’t seen anything yet from GoDaddy, but I’m sure they’ll do something tasteful and classy as usual. The Super Bowl is a massive investment, so smart advertisers will try to get as much mileage out of it as possible. I think you’ll see a lot of that on Game Day.
I would also not be surprised if we saw more brands trying to emulate last year’s success of VW and Chrysler. I expect to see a lot of pop culture references, more than a few cute kids, and a handful of brands coming out with their “important thing to say about America.” Hopefully not all in the same spot.
How do you explain trends in creative advertising such as ‘advertising becoming more human’ or ‘the return to traditional storytelling’? What are the primary drivers shaping these new orientations in your field?
Advertising is getting smarter and more sophisticated because our audience is getting smarter and more sophisticated. Thanks to products like the iPad and the iPhone, consumers are so much more digitally literate than they used to be. Now they understand the difference between a great experience and a terrible one. The cable networks are delivering unbelievably good programming—shows like “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Sopranos.”
As advertisers, what we make has to be equally great. Or it’s just going to be ignored. Or worse yet, mocked on Twitter. The Super Bowl is, by far, the biggest entertainment event of the year. People come expecting to see fireworks, cheerleaders, F-14s flying in formation, the works. Viewers expect that level of spectacle from the commercials as well. That’s why great storytelling and humanization are so important. You can’t just wow people with great visual effects. You need the human story to make an emotional connection.
Anything else to add?
Just that it’s an amazing time to be working in advertising. Clients are becoming more ambitious. The consumer is more demanding. And we have have the technology and the media to do just about anything we can imagine.
Photo Credit to Chris Cassidy