6 fascinating tips you can learn from Super Bowl commercials

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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 Outpost.com 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!

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About the author

Sally Hogshead

Sally skyrocketed to the top of the advertising world in her early 20s, fascinating millions of consumers for clients such as MINI Cooper and Coca-Cola. Since then, she’s published two New York Times bestsellers on the science of fascination, and is one of only 172 living members in the Speaker Hall of Fame. Over a million professionals have taken the Fascination Advantage® personality test to discover how others perceive their communication.

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