When a brand spends 5 million dollars to air a 30-second advertisement (not including production costs) during a major sporting event, the resulting commercial should aspire to the heights of visual brand storytelling.
Given an estimated audience size of 100.7 million viewers (on the low side compared to prior years) the cost per impression for each ad could be as efficient as 5 cents per viewer. If you figure the best and worst ads had plenty of pre-event hype and post-event analysis, that investment may even be better than the initial per impression breakdown.
Visual storytelling from three brands
Since so much rides on these big bet advertisements, let’s deconstruct a few of the visual storytelling offerings from the big game to see what we can learn from these monstrous efforts. I will focus on three ads from brands with which I have either worked directly or in which I’ve worked with their leaders. Those brands are Google, Microsoft, and Mercedes-Benz.
The VP of Global Communication and Public Affairs at Google is Corey duBrowa. I had the good fortune to work with Corey when he was SVP of Communication and Global Affairs at Starbucks and have stayed in touch during his travels to Salesforce and then on to Google.
The first featured Google’s language translator function and showed how technology could facilitate understanding of phrases like – how are you, thank you, and I love you – irrespective of language.
The “Grow with Google” commercial shows how veterans can search for civilian jobs using their MOS (military operation specialty code). It is an homage to military sacrifice.
The strength of these ads comes in the emotional connections they forge on products which are functionally programming code.
Having presented on behalf of Microsoft, I watched with interest as Microsoft’s marketing team partnered with their creative agency McCann in their commercial titled “We All Win.” While the ad during the game ran for 60 seconds, I have linked to the long-form version of the commercial (it’s just under 2 minutes).
The spot humanizes the enabling impact of Xbox’s Adaptive Controller on the lives of children who are physically challenged. It was clearly one of the most poignant commercials of the game.
Finally, Mercedes-Benz a consulting client and the subject of my book Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way featured a 60 second “Say the Word”commercial. It was developed in conjunction with their agency of record Merkley & Partners.
The spot playfully through fantasy highlights the new A-class Mercedes-Benz (the A stands for advanced and it’s a vehicle designed with a new Mercedes-Benz user experience).
In a nutshell, the A-class is a small sedan with a host of voice-activated bells and whistles to engage the technophile. The commercial suggests the car gives you power and all you need to do is say the word.
Love them or hate them?
The commercials from Sunday’s game strive to create an emotional connection (poignant or humorous). They also strive to humanize products or computer code and demonstrate the relational power of each brand.
These efforts to garner the hearts and minds of consumers must then be paid off through sales and service experiences that reinforce the promises alluded to in the advertisements. For example, the Mercedes-Benz A-class shopper should experience not only a technologically advanced car but also a technologically advanced buying experience.
Memorable venue and experience
Before I close, I should also acknowledge the spectacular venue and experience provided at the game by Steve Cannon and Harry Hynekamp. Steve was CEO for Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) in the days when I worked with them on their customer experience transformation and Harry was the MBUSA General Manager of Customer Experience. Steve is now the CEO of the AMB Group (the investment and management division of the Arthur M. Blank Family of Businesses (which include the Atlanta Falcons Football Club, Atlanta United FC, and the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium) and Harry is the Head of Fan Experience at the AMB Sports & Entertainment Group.
Suffice it to say, Steve, Harry, and the entire city of Atlanta delivered an exquisitely safe, engaging, and memorable experience to all in attendance at the Mercedes-Benz stadium.
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