The build-up to the holiday

It’s getting close to that glorious time of the year: the advertisers’ holiday. Yep. It’s Super Bowl season. In less than two weeks, we’ll be privileged (or horrified) to watch a parade of ads that will doubtless, at the very least, be entertaining.

The Super Bowl offers us the great and the good of the world of advertising, at least as done in the States, which sometimes means that, for the rest of us, it’s the good, the bad and the ugly. In the same way that my palate has changed since I moved here, my taste in and appreciation for the fine art of advertising has changed. Funny, isn’t it?

In true pre-holiday spirit, I think it’s fitting to talk about what I’m hoping that the holiday will deliver to me this year and to reminisce about some of my favourites from years past.

Entertainment is the word of the day in nearly every Super Bowl. It’s a classic American holiday given to indulgence and entertainment. The spread of food is known to rival Thanksgiving, albeit in a strictly finger food context, and Americans plonk themselves down with a beer or two and shout for their team (or at least a team) and shush each other when the breaks come (fast and furious).

But, I’m not precious about how I’m entertained. Sure I like the funny ads, but an ad can certainly entertain me without making me laugh out loud. It might make me smile, like VW’s classic ‘The Force’ ad.

Or it might be that interest is built over time as part of a saga or, like the classic Bud Bowls of my childhood. The first instalment built the interest over a series of commercial breaks, followed by the subsequent instalments over the years.

Or it might be heartwarming (and use cute animals too), like any number of the Budweiser Clydesdale ads (some of which are also funny). This is one of the more emotional of the lot.

And it can even have a more serious side, using celebrities or music to tell a story, like the first of Chrysler’s Imported from Detroit ads starring Eminem.

But, I will admit that there is something satisfying about the ad that creates a belly laugh, like ‘Herding Cats’ from EDS.

Or the ever popular pug attack ad from Doritos a couple of years ago, which not only had humour but also a dog – winning combination.

The best of the best – the ones I’m hoping for most – are those that are not only entertaining in whatever way shape or form, but also well-branded and relevant to the target audience (my favourite soap box). Some of those I’ve mentioned above do this well – for example any of the Budweiser Clydesdale ads benefit from a strong branding device as well as frequently being entertaining. This is an excellent opportunity for me to share one of my favourites. (In order to understand this, it’s important to know that the referee in American football wears a stripey top).

But my most favourite of all time are the ads from the 90s. They benefit from a consistent (helping branding) and entertaining style with a message that packs a wollop. There are so many great ones that it’s hard to choose. So, instead, I’ll share my husband’s favourite. And I hope, for your own sanity, that you can’t say that you’ve ever been in a meeting like this.

Tara Beard-Knowland is a Director at Ipsos ASI. Follow her on Twitter @TaraatIpsosASI.

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