How Stories Won This Year’s Super Bowl

It’s that most wonderful time of year for advertisers, the one magical Sunday when people actually yell, “Hey, be quiet! The commercials are on!” and gather around to see what America’s biggest brands have to teach us about humor, relevance, and the human experience. The big game may have come and gone, but for marketers, the ads are forever.This year, three spots in particular stuck with me, not necessarily for their innovation or star-studded casts, but because of their return to marketing’s most fundamental tenet: Storytelling.

Google: A Love Story
Who would have thought a Super Bowl ad that made every living room in the U.S. weep would be so well-received? This is the power of storytelling. Google’s 90-second “Loretta” ad was surprising in its use of a man in his 90s to sell a modern piece of technology, and for all of its emotional power, “Loretta” might have had the lowest production budget of any Super Bowl commercial this year. Passing on flashy visuals and famous celebrities, “Loretta’s” might was rooted in its story. Google’s tale of memory, love and all those little moments that culminate to a life well-lived was its quiet strength on a day when we anticipate slap-stick humor and great gags. We all hope to reach our 90s with this type of love story to share, and through that lens, Google showed us, “Yeah, you can make me cry during the Super Bowl, and I’m okay with it.”

Reliving Groundhog Day with Jeep
What better story to tell than one that has already won the hearts of millions? In reviving the 1993 classic “Groundhog Day,” Jeep connected with its target audience by paying homage to the film and allowing Bill Murray’s characteristic style to own the moment.

A re-telling of the beloved film, the spot stayed true to “Groundhog Day’s” signature humor and storyline but instead showed us a Bill Murray eager to relive each and every day in his Jeep Gladiator. Playing on nostalgia and a tale that millions of Americans already know so well, Jeep served up a commercial with the perfect match of product and demographic in a (hilarious) 60-second package.

Budweiser’s Extraordinary Power of the Ordinary
In a world full of social media influencers and online personas, the story of the ordinary actually becomes extraordinary. This is the plotline of Budweiser’s “Typical Americans” spot.

In this 60-second commercial, Budweiser wove together a narrative of “average” Americans, lots of regular people (and a few famous ones) whose intimate, personal moments amounted to viral acts of both kindness and greatness. The ad uses moving video set to American stereotypes to tell the story of who we collectively are. Budweiser is a brew rooted in the uniquely American tale of “out of many, one,” and this spot celebrates not just that common story we share, but the common people behind it all.

Embracing Substance Over Style
In advertising, it’s all too easy to be lured in by the flashiest new technology, the wildest ideas, and innovation for the sake of innovation. Great marketing though roots itself in the oldest tool in our toolbelt. The power of storytelling can make still images with voiceover, a repackaging of an old tale, and the ordinary lives of average Americans some of the most compelling moments in advertising. Those are the moments worth shouting, “Hey, be quiet! The commercials are on!”

About the Author: Matt Moore With more than 2 decades of experience, Matt Moore is a partner and Chief Creative Officer at OH Partners Advertising. Matt is also the President of Matter Films, OH’s sister film and commercial production company that he launched in 2017.

Matt is an award-winning Creative Director and is a member of the Forbes Agency Council including writing contributions on Forbes.com. He is a member of the 2017 Professional Who’s Who Network and was recently honored by the Phoenix Business Journal as the 2018 Chief Marketing Officer of the Year. Matt is a creative entrepreneur who has led agency pitch teams that have won more than $350 million in new business.

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