Humor and The Super Bowl Commercials

Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching.  In fact, it’s this weekend.  And as usual, the highlights will be:  The game, the half-time entertainment, the commercials and the office pool.   Not necessarily in that order!  It’s the rare television event where the commercials are highly anticipated and where they fetch record-breaking price tags for 30 seconds of airtime.  In fact the financial investment seems to come with bragging rights.

I’ve not had any preview of the commercials, but here is what I would expect to see on Sunday.  Seventy-five percent of the commercials will be driven by humor.  Add another fifteen percent which will rely high-end, digital, mind-blowing special effects (some of the humor ones will also feature some of these special effects too).  The remaining ten percent will be straight-forward sales efforts, some with a heart-strings emotional appeal.  In almost all the commercials, the driving force will be the Entertainment value (with a capital E).

Humor in advertising is a good investment.  Here’s why:

1.  Humor gets attention.  That’s especially critical on Super Bowl Sunday.  The commercials have to break through the chatter of the pre-game hype, the game, the entertainment, the other commercials and the people drinking beer.

2.  Humor gets remembered.  We’re talking about viral advertising here.  The aim is to create the buzz that will make the commercial the talk of the office on Monday morning.  They want it to be so good that people will be watching them again on the internet.  If the commercial is great, the advertising fee will give them more than just the initial 30 seconds of airtime.

3.  Humor sells.  It creates credibility and trust.  And when you combine the elements of getting attention and being memorable, you have a winner that rings the cash register.  That’s why the ad spots get big bucks.

4.  Sophisticated humor outsells crude humor.  Recent television ad campaigns have featured fart humor, pee humor and kick-in-the-groin humor.  That’s a reflection on the difficult task of creating quality, high-level humor and the tendency to take the easy way out, going for a cheap laugh.  I would expect and hope to see better on Sunday.  The Super Bowl audience is sophisticated and deserves better.

After the game festivities are over, I would expect to find a website on the internet where you can replay all the commercials.  I’ll look for it and if I find it I’ll write another post with a link and a post-game review of the commercials and we’ll see how far off target my predictions are.  Enjoy the game and be a student of the commercials.