5 Ingredients to a memorable Super Bowl Commercial

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Our Head of Design, Philip, breaks down the formula of this year’s best “Big Game” spots.

Have you heard about Jamie Oliver’s 5-ingredient Cookbook? His recipes are great because they’re simple. What does a recipe have to do with an Ad? Well, both can be enjoyable and entertaining - when done well. So let’s see the 5 common ingredients we kept on seeing in this year’s most memorable Super Bowl commercials.

When booking airtime for a 90-second ad costs you somewhere in the region of $5.6 million, the marketing manager in you is tempted to communicate every little detail of your product. DON’T GIVE IN. If you do, chances are you’ll end up with a commercial no one remembers.

Ingredients to the perfect ad:

Choose a main USP

Just as you would do with a main course, pick a Unique Selling Point (USP) which you can explain in 5 seconds or less, and build the whole ad around it. Focusing on one USP will give more weight to it, and your audience is more likely to understand and retain your message.

Infuse Pop Culture

If you want your audience to connect to the piece and hopefully discuss it/share it with their friends, you need to give a good reason to. A good way to generate affinity is to add pop-culture references, obviously relevant to your target audience - and no, everyone is not an audience. Unless you have a super-mega budget and you can afford to include every space-themed franchise in the last 40 years (like Walmart did, but if you’re reading this - you’re probably not Walmart).

Flavour with Narrative

Remember when it was innovative to place a product in movies? Right, now we went full circle and we have adverts which feel more like a Netflix narrative-piece with the product barely making a cameo. An engaging story is the only reason people won’t switch channel, press that Skip button on YouTube or thumb-scroll on Facebook, whether you like it or not. This year’s trend is Family Guy-style Cutaway Gags, where a protagonist says a random line, then the scene immediately cuts to the action (Check Caesars & Amazon).

Sprinkle with Humour

Speaking of trends, the below recipes, erm TV Commercials, all make good use of humour, in some sort of degree. Considering the political climate in the States and the sport-related tension during air-time, a lot of brands are opting for light-hearted, humorous TVCs.

Add a pinch of Branding

Branding is just like salt. It makes all the difference, but overdoing it kills the entire recipe. There are ways and ways of including branding in video. You don’t need an oversized logo on-screen. In the Walmart ad, their big blue bag, the personnel and the parking lot become the brand itself. In the Alexa ad, everyone knows Alexa executes your voice commands, so the command itself becomes the branding. So when you’re prepping your next advert, think of what best represents your brand: chances are that it’s not your logo.

Now on to the recipes:

Recipe 1: 
Amazon: #BeforeAlexa
Servers: 1 brand
Time: 90 seconds

Voice Command
Narrative: Ellen and Portia getting ready to leave home.
Humour: Cutaway Gags; Made up stories imagined by the protagonists that set up the gag.
Pop Culture: Fake News • Flat Earth Conspiracists • Dragons (GoT) • Nixon’s Impeachment • Usher’s In the Club
Branding: Product, voice command

Recipe 2: 
Bud Light: #PostyStore & #PostyBar - Inside Post's Brain
Servers: 1 brand, 2 episodes
Time: 60 seconds

Introducing new flavours
Narrative: Post Malone walks into a bar… and a convenience store.
Humour: Self-awareness; Face tattoos, Rappers’ financials, Spleen.
Pop Culture: “Season 1 was much better than Season 2”, Post Malone
Branding: Product



Recipe 3: 
Walmart: Famous Visitors
Servers: 1 brand
Time:  112 seconds

Out-of-this-World Convenience
Narrative: The most famous visitors in the universe come for groceries to Walmart.
Humour: Redefining “out-of-this-world”.
Pop Culture: Too many to list. 
Branding: “Big blue bag!”, Personnel, Parking lot.


Recipe 4: 
Walmart: Mountain Dew Zero: As Good As The Original
Servers: 1 brand
Time:  60 seconds

As good as the original, maybe even better?
Narrative: Brain Cranston starring in a The Shining “remake”.
Humour: Anti-climatic timing, Post credit scene: Brain Cranston starring as the twins.
Pop Culture: The Shining & a dig Hollywood collective lack of original material.
Branding: Product.


Recipe 5: 
Walmart: Little Caesars: Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
Servers: 1 brand
Time:  90 seconds

Introducing delivery service
Narrative: Looks like #LittleCaesarsDelivers is causing chaos over at Sliced Bread’s imaginary offices.
Humour: Cutaways gags worthy of Family Guy and The Office.
Pop Culture: Cast.
Branding: Delivery service, Personnel, Product.


Recipe 6: 
Toyota: #LetsGoPlaces ft. Cobie Smulders
1 brand
Time:  60 seconds

There’s room in Toyota’s new SUV
Narrative: Cobie Smulders' goes wherever she’s needed to save the day (or night)
Humour: Movies endings would be completely different if there was room for one more.
Pop Culture: Indirect reference to blockbusters and series, cast.
Branding: Product.


Think you have fresh ingredients (read: brands) dying for an awe-inspiring recipe? Our kitchen is fully equipped and our Chefs are ready to go.
(No multi-million budget necessary, but it helps)