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6 fascinating tips you can learn from Super Bowl commercials


Screen Shot 2014 01 27 at 5.36.14 PM

Right now, as I type this, I’m prepping for a segment on ABC’s LIVE with Kelly and Michael show. Want a sneak peek? I’ll be giving an insider scoop on fascinating Super Bowl commercials.  

The same principles that make a Super Bowl commercial fascinating will also work for your communication.

The same is true for ANY type of communication — whether it’s an introduction, a bio, or a first date.

Watching ads at a Super Bowl party is totally different than regular TV. A commercial has to hook people instantly, or we’re off to the kitchen for more chips. Your communication is the same way. Hook people with a message that’s entertaining, informative, or surprising… or they’re off.

Six traits that make a Super Bowl commercial fascinating:

1. Simple storytelling: Super Bowl parties tend to be noisy and distracting-- not to mention “well-lubricated.” At this party, the best spots tend to be no-brainers that don’t ask people to think too much. 

2. Surprise your audience: Whether it’s humor or shock value, when we’re watching the Super Bowl, our attention spans are shorter than ever. Special effects and huge production extravaganzas dazzle viewers even when the TV sound is turned off. People can’t help but notice something unexpected. Hello, creepy Mom!

3. Tell a story: When commercials tap into a basic human truth, they don’t just entertain – they make us feel something. They get under our skin and into our conversations. They show us who we are.

4. Make it relatable: Every year, the Super Bowl is brimming with commercials starring animals and babies.  That’s because we can’t help but feel an emotional connection with pure cuteness. This year, the Super Bowl will have more animals than Noah’s Ark. We’ll see dogs, puppies, bears, horses, and more puppies. Even a few Muppets

5. Familiar icons: Neurology shows that we’re more likely to respond to images that are familiar and comforting. During the Super Bowl, or any cluttered environment, familiarity can win out over the more “edgy” ideas, because we already have an association with the image or person. For example, it’s almost impossible to talk about classic Super Bowl advertising and not mention Clydesdales, right?

6. Controversy: When you need to immediately break through and make a statement, it can be worth taking a risk of using shock value or an unfamiliar storyline. (Anyone else remember years ago when shot a gerbil out of a cannon?) Provocative spots definitely get people talking, which add up to media dollars. And then there’s sex… enough said.

Now it’s your turn:

What commercials are YOU most excited to watch? Which ones are most fascinating in those critical first 9 seconds of an introduction? Which ones lost your attention? 

Do tell, in the comments section below.

~ Sally 


p.s. Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to be on a bunch of big morning shows, including a couple of TODAY Show appearances about the Super Bowl. It’s my second time on LIVE with Kelly Ripa, and part of my commenting on advertising.

If you’d like to watch tomorrow morning, send me a tweet at @SallyHogshead so I know you’re out there with me!



The great thing about the Superbowl commercials is that, just like with Sally, we can't wait to hear what they're going to say or do the next time we see them. We are "fascinated" by each new creative method. Imagine if I could learn to think this way and every time I opened my mouth, people were drawn to me just to see what came next!
Posted @ Monday, January 27, 2014 7:25 PM by Bruce Graf
Good luck on your media performances. Friendly notice: I don't see #4 on your list.
Posted @ Monday, January 27, 2014 8:49 PM by Ken Morrison
Have fun on the show tomorrow morning. We will be watching. I have learned so much about the topic of fascination from you. Keep the emails coming.
Posted @ Monday, January 27, 2014 9:23 PM by Leelo Bush PhD
So glad I just saw this~ TV is ON! Be FASCINATING (not that you could be any other way ;-) )
Posted @ Tuesday, January 28, 2014 7:58 AM by Linda Ryan
Love your work - you always inspire something in me... 
Posted @ Tuesday, January 28, 2014 8:00 AM by steve
Go Sally, go! xox
Posted @ Tuesday, January 28, 2014 8:07 AM by Poppy
I always think back to a Super Bowl commercial that featured cowboys herding cats... It was one of the biggest *failures* because everyone remembered it BUT no one seemed to know what it was for! Coincidentally, my father worked for the company that created the spot - EDS, a telecommunications company founded by Rodd Perot - so I got a big laugh out of being able to fill in the blank about the company's mission!
Posted @ Tuesday, January 28, 2014 9:28 AM by Michelle R.
Oy! Always spellcheck... Ross Perot...
Posted @ Tuesday, January 28, 2014 9:30 AM by Michelle R.
Just saw you on Live! Great job!
Posted @ Tuesday, January 28, 2014 9:54 AM by Tami Staker
Good luck!
Posted @ Tuesday, January 28, 2014 10:39 AM by Konnie
Sally, Go fascinate Michael and Kelly! The very best SB commercials I have ever seen Crystler's "Imported from detroit" w/ Eminem and Dodge's "It's Half Time America" w/ Clint Eastwood. Damn! Those were amazing!
Posted @ Tuesday, January 28, 2014 12:27 PM by Gary J. Xavier
I love the Clydesdale commercials. I also love the new Geico commercials and the Progressive commercials
Posted @ Tuesday, January 28, 2014 6:25 PM by Nick Garrison
As a owner of a small mobile business (locksmith/alarm company) this is something I struggle with! My service vans are moving billboards! And the back of each van is a GREAT place for a catchy ad, but what do I say to totally Fascinate people, and make them want to store my number in their phones???
Posted @ Saturday, February 01, 2014 6:55 AM by Jayson Wolbert
That's an excellent question Jayson. 
Our advice is to center your messages around how you communicate at your best. Have you taken the Fascination Advantage assessment? It's the first step into seeing how you add distinct value. 
So for instance if you are a Passion personality you could tug at the heart strings with something like "Keeping the important things in life safe." If you speak the language of Mystique on the other hand, you could say something like "Some things are better left secret. Like how much cash you keep in your nightstand." 
Whatever it is that makes people stop what they're doing and pay attention to you - hone in on those type of messages. Because that is how you fascinate.
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