Why is the Super Bowl the most watched television event almost every year? Is it the matchup between two great football teams? Perhaps. Is it the halftime entertainment that provides memorable moments by famous musical acts like Janet Jackson's well-documented wardrobe malfunction? Possibly. But, I think the thing that may bring all ages, backgrounds, and sports fans and non-sports fans alike together is the commercials.
Even if you don't know if a football is blown up or stuffed, even if you don't know the difference between Richard Sherman and Richard Simmons, everyone loves watching the commercials. We talk about and analyze them. They make us laugh. Heck, sometimes they even make us cry. There are the perennial favorites like the Budweiser Clydesdales. There are spots that stay with viewers for years like Mean Joe Greene's Coca-Cola ad. There are all types of funny animals such as monkeys, dogs, and frogs used to get our attention. Last year, Bordas & Bordas even got into the Super Bowl TV frenzy with a commercial of our own.
I can't help but laugh as I recall one of my college roommates who didn't like football (a trait almost unheard of at Notre Dame) who did his homework during game action but stopped to watch the commercials. Why are we so drawn into these advertising gems? In short, because the Super Bowl commercials remind us of who we are as Americans. We are hard-working, beer-drinking, animal-loving people.
The trick for these companies and their ad agencies who drop $4 million a pop on a 30 second spot is to find a way to connect with people. In order to do this, they have to be incredibly talented storytellers. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them because the interesting twist for me is that it is a lot like being a trial lawyer.
You see, our job is to get our message across to a jury by connecting with them in a way that moves them to act in a certain manner that benefits our clients. At our very core, we are storytellers. The more emotion that we can bring about and draw out when telling our stories, the better we do. Of course, we get hours, days, or sometimes weeks to tell our story to a jury. These companies get 30 seconds to do the same. But, they do it masterfully. In fact, they do it so well that for many Americans, the commercials are the Super Bowl.
So, as you watch this Sunday and take it all in, remember that behind every great story is a great storyteller. And, by the way, in case you want to watch the game too, a football is blown up, not stuffed.