“Best” of the Super Bowl Crowning Criteria

First, we need to agree on what being the “best” means. Popular Super Bowl creative often includes celebrity cameos, new CGI or elaborate and emotional storytelling. Stephan Vogel, Ogilvy & Mather Germany’s chief creative officer says creative advertising works because it “is more memorable, longer lasting, works with less media spending, and builds a fan community…faster.” (Harvard Business Review) I personally don’t think those two ideas necessarily add up to mean the “best”.

While studying creative advertising, I noticed this idealized notion of pure storytelling – that if you tell the story in a poignant way, the ad will be effective. Now, I work in a very hands-on, tactical marketing department – I’ve learned that for creative to work, it needs to build off concrete marketing principles.

Carvana is a great example of a company who did all of that this year.

Carvana told a great story about an oversharer who was really excited about her purchase. She was relatable and funny, but most importantly she drove the messaging home. The character repeated real positioning objectives like “I get seven days to love it, or my money back” and “I thought all online meant no one to help me, but Susan from Carvana had all the answers”. These types of messages are often shied away from on such a high level of advertising. However, repetition of these differentiators drive awareness beyond the general – it allows consumers to remember why they know Carvana. 

The character was earnesty and gave viewers a sense of familiarity. We understood her story through art direction – lives in a suburbia, has an off-beat creative outlet, is a corporate worker, her son gets married and she embarrasses him at work.  It’s the circle of life, all in :30. What builds community better than that?

The spot was one of this year’s crowned “best” because it is emotional, memorable, and tactical. Most pieces miss that third element in place of artistry, but using tools in context to achieve goals can be both imaginative and impactful.

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