Super Bowl Sunday (or Monday for Australians) is now in full swing.

In addition to the game and countless cutaways of Taylor Swift, millions worldwide will be tuning in for the next best thing: the ads. We engaged in discussions with some of Australia’s top creatives to explore the lessons we can glean from advertising during one of the biggest sporting events.

Tristan Graham, ECD, Clemenger BBDO

Tristan Graham, ECD at Clemenger BBDO, shared his perspective. Although Australia lacks a Super Bowl-scale event that captures the entire nation, Graham emphasized foundational learnings applicable to all. The key takeaway, according to him, is cultivating empathy for the audience.

In essence, Super Bowl commercials underscore the importance of “reading the room.” While TV briefs may not always include the media plan, Graham suggests that ads are most effective when they align with the energy of their environment. For instance, an AI-focused ad may resonate powerfully in a cinema audience gearing up for a serious drama but may fall flat at a Super Bowl party amidst laughter and conversation. Context becomes pivotal.

Moreover, the Super Bowl serves as a reminder to be single-minded if one aims to be memorable. Graham pointed out that simplicity often prevails, as evidenced by the winners of the USA Today Ad Meter. These winning ads typically feature straightforward stories with clear brand or product points.

Lastly, Graham emphasized the role of empathy in recognizing that people have limited attention spans. This ties into effective branding, where the story itself can become synonymous with the brand. He highlighted the example of Aubrey Plaza’s joyful presence in the recent Mountain Dew Baja Blast commercial, showcasing branding that is not only effortless and memorable but also easily transformed into a meme.

Dee Madigan, ECD, Campaign Edge

Get ready for a joyride! Add layers to your content with a spectacular flagship feature on broadcast TV, and sprinkle some ingenious extras across diverse platforms to spark a treasure hunt for viewers.

And if a celebrity is in the mix, let’s make it exceptionally clever – a touch of brilliance that leaves everyone talking!

Justin Hind, co-CEO and founder, Reunion

Once more, it underscores the significance of creativity in grabbing attention and highlights how bold creativity can yield an outsized impact.

It showcases how brands can extend their reach well beyond the confines of a commercial, emphasizing the influence of social engagement and experiential connection within a unified concept. It serves as a poignant reminder of the potential inherent in leveraging significant cultural moments.

Daniel Sparkes, creative lead, Bullfrog

The message is clear: humor and entertainment can wield more influence than purpose-driven creativity. It’s a compelling reminder that our focus should be on creating content that genuinely captures people’s interest.

Moreover, it serves as a valuable lesson in the efficacy of star power. While it might be overlooked in Australia, the Super Bowl demonstrates that incorporating celebrity appeal can be a potent strategy. Perhaps it’s time for us to explore ways to seamlessly integrate star power into our creative landscape more frequently.

Tom Wenborn, ECD, Thinkerbell

Australia may not have a singular ‘Super Bowl moment’ to direct advertisers towards, and that’s perfectly fine.

Yet, a valuable lesson can be drawn from the way U.S. brands approach their significant endeavors each year. The key takeaway is to view the industry more as entertainment than mere advertising. Incorporating more celebrities, creating humorous content for its own sake, amplifying stunts and interactive concepts to a scale where they can’t be missed, and placing a central idea at the core of everything can be transformative approaches worth considering.

Jenny Mak, creative partner, DDB

Amid the plethora of lessons offered by the Super Bowl, three key takeaways emerge as especially vital for Australian advertisers.

The first imperative is to elevate creativity and storytelling. The Super Bowl stands as the epitome of excellence in creative advertising narratives. Consider Volkswagen’s ‘The Force’ ad from the 2011 Super Bowl, a masterpiece in storytelling that combined humor and heart to craft a memorable and endearing commercial resonating globally. Australian advertisers should aim to weave narratives that captivate and connect, pushing creative boundaries to stand out in a saturated landscape.

The second critical lesson is to embrace authenticity and purpose. Super Bowl ads that strike a chord often authentically align with meaningful causes or tap into universal truths. Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, consistently resonating by celebrating diversity and challenging beauty norms, exemplifies this. Australian advertisers should prioritize authenticity and purpose, ensuring their messaging reflects genuine values, resonating personally with their target audience.

The third key takeaway emphasizes harnessing the power of digital. While Super Bowl ads debut on television, their impact extends exponentially through digital and social media channels. The ‘Dunk in the Dark’ tweet by Oreo during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout illustrates this, showcasing real-time agility that created a viral social media sensation. Australian advertisers should recognize the pivotal role of digital platforms in amplifying campaigns, leveraging social media for audience engagement, and extending messaging reach beyond traditional channels.

By integrating these Super Bowl lessons into their advertising strategies, Australian advertisers can forge campaigns that not only capture attention but also forge meaningful connections, driving profound engagement and results.

Pete Bosilkovski, CEO, It’s Friday

Over my 25 years in the industry, discussions with clients about creating advertising moments akin to the Super Bowl for our major sporting events have been ongoing. However, for various reasons, this concept has not gained the same level of traction.

Events like the AFL Grand Final, the NRL Grand Final, or the State of Origin have not attracted advertisers to invest at the extravagant scale seen during the Super Bowl. While it’s not impossible, the significant investment needed for bespoke advertising has been a hurdle. Yet, imagine if a brand took that leap, akin to what John Lewis achieved during the Christmas period. The impact was not just substantial; it catapulted the brand to fame, serving as inspiration for brands worldwide.

In Australia, only a handful of brands have attained fame status primarily due to their advertising efforts. The potential exists to harness the power of storytelling as a medium and create brand fame, similar to the successful models witnessed globally. The opportunity is ripe for brands to take the plunge, leveraging these major events to establish themselves as iconic through compelling narratives.

Shane Geffen, ECD, HERO

In 2020, the Super Bowl broadcast featured a staggering 70 commercials, consuming a total of 46 minutes of advertising airtime. This sheer volume underscores the necessity for brands to distinguish themselves through disruptive and attention-grabbing work.

Consider the impact if we were to approach more briefs and challenges with a Super Bowl mindset. It doesn’t necessarily imply the need for Super Bowl budgets; what’s crucial is cultivating a mindset of Super Bowl Bravery – a willingness to embrace bold and daring approaches in our creative endeavors.

Alex Don, client lead, Common Ventures

Making a significant impact doesn’t necessarily require Super Bowl-level spending, but the adage holds true: you get out what you put in.

Aligning with Byron Sharp’s philosophy, the focus should be on targeting mass audiences rather than niche ones. A broader audience pool opens the door to greater growth potential, and successful brands often achieve this by consistently captivating a large and diverse audience.

Engagement thrives on what is both good and different. While considering best practices is essential, it’s equally crucial not to drown your ad in a checklist. Striking a balance between proven strategies and the freedom to be unique can lead to truly impactful advertising.

Sarah McGregor, ECD, dentsu Creative

Absolutely, having the biggest budget doesn’t guarantee distinctiveness. In fact, it’s often the creativity, ambition, irreverent sense of humor, and inherent bravery that set brands apart. While budgets may be smaller, the key is to leverage the unique tools at your disposal. Australian advertisers can outshine their American counterparts by working even harder, embracing ambition, infusing humor, and staying brave. It’s a reminder that in the competition for a share of voice, it’s the inventive and daring approach that truly makes an impact.

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