What can Australia learn from advertising in the Super Bowl? We asked the experts

Super Bowl Sunday (or Monday for us Aussies) is officially in full swing. And, along with the game itself and roughly half a million cutaways of Taylor Swift minding her own business, millions around the world will be watching the next best thing: the ads.

We sat down with some of Australia’s leading creatives to discuss what we can learn from advertising at one of sport’s biggest events.

Tristan Graham, ECD, Clemenger BBDO

While we might not have a Super Bowl-like event in Australia that the whole country tunes into, there are still plenty of foundational learnings that we can all take away from the event itself. For me, all of them come back to one thing: empathy for your audience. 

Said another way, Super Bowl commercials are a great reminder to read the room. For example, creatives don’t often get TV briefs that include the media plan‚ but they should—ads work best when they meet the energy of the space they enter. A poetic ad musing on the benefits of AI could be very powerful if it aired in a cinema to an audience about to watch a serious drama. But trying to break through the laughter and conversation of a Super Bowl party with an ad filled with piano music and lifestyle vignettes is nothing short of pointless. Context is key. 

The Super Bowl is also a great reminder to be single-minded if you want to be remembered. You just have to look at the USA Today Ad Meter winners. They’re never the complicated product-point filled stories. They’re the simple stories with simple points to make about a brand or a product. 

Finally, empathy is about understanding that people don’t have much attention to give. This intersects with the role of branding. Done right, the story can be the brand. Aubrey Plaza “having a blast” in this year’s Mountain Dew Baja Blast commercial is a fantastic example of this. The branding is not just effortless and memorable, it’s meme-able. 

Dee Madigan, ECD, Campaign Edge

Have some fun!! And layer your content.  A fabulous hero piece on broadcast TV and some clever extra stuff on different platforms so people go searching for it.

And if you’re going to use a celebrity make it really really clever.

Justin Hind, co-CEO and founder, Reunion

It again emphasises the importance of creativity in capturing attention and how pushing creativity can create disproportionate impact if you’re brave.

It demonstrates how brands can leverage attention far beyond the commercial. It reinforces the power of social and experience in a connected idea. It reminds us of the potential of leveraging big moments in culture.

Daniel Sparkes, creative lead, Bullfrog

That comedy and entertainment can be more powerful than purpose lead creative. It’s a great reminder that we just need to make things people are interested in.

It’s also a good reminder that star power works. We often shun it here in Australia but perhaps we need to find a way to naturally make it work more often. 

Tom Wenborn, ECD, Thinkerbell

I don’t think Australia really has a ‘Super Bowl moment’ that we can just push advertisers toward, and that’s ok.

If there’s one thing I’d take out of the way US brands approach their big bets for the year, it would be to treat the industry more like entertainment than advertising, use more celebrities, make funny stuff for the sake of it, give stunts and interactive ideas the scale they need to be seen, put an idea at the heart of everything.

Jenny Mak, creative partner, DDB

Among the many lessons the Super Bowl offers, three key takeaways stand out as more crucial than ever for Australian advertisers. 

The first is to elevate creativity and narrative. The Super Bowl sets the gold standard for creativity and storytelling in advertising. Take, for example, Volkswagen’s ‘The Force’ ad, which debuted during the 2011 Super Bowl. It was a masterclass in storytelling, using humour and heart to create a memorable and endearing commercial that resonated with audiences worldwide. Australian advertisers should aspire to craft narratives that captivate and connect with audiences on a similar level, pushing creative boundaries to stand out in a crowded landscape. 

The second is to embrace authenticity and purpose. The Super Bowl ads that resonate most deeply are often those that authentically align with meaningful causes or tap into universal truths. Take Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, which has consistently struck a chord with audiences by celebrating diversity and challenging conventional beauty standards. Australian advertisers should prioritize authenticity and purpose in their campaigns, ensuring that their messaging reflects genuine values and resonates with their target audience on a personal level. 

The third key takeaway is to harness the power of digital. While Super Bowl ads may air on television, their impact extends far beyond the broadcast through digital and social media channels. Take Oreo’s ‘Dunk in the Dark’ tweet, which went viral during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout. In a matter of minutes, Oreo capitalized on a real-time moment to create a buzzworthy social media sensation, demonstrating the power of digital agility and responsiveness. Australian advertisers should recognize the importance of digital platforms in amplifying their campaigns, leveraging social media to engage with audiences and extend the reach of their messaging beyond traditional channels. 

By embracing these lessons from the Super Bowl and infusing them into their advertising strategies, Australian advertisers can create campaigns that not only capture attention but also resonate deeply with audiences, driving meaningful connections and results. 

Pete Bosilkovski, CEO, It’s Friday

Throughout my 25 years. we’ve talked to clients about creating an advertising moment like the Super Bowl for our sporting events, but for whatever reason it has never received the same level of traction.

The AFL grand Final, The NRL Grand Final, or state of origin has never attracted advertisers to invest insanely like the Super Bowl does. It’s not to say it can’t, but the level of investment required to create bespoke advertising is huge. However, what if a brand did. Just look at John Lewis and what it’s created during the Christmas period. Arguable it has catapulted the brand into fame status and inspired brands all around the word to follow suit and they have.

There are only a handful of brands in this country that have achieved fame status due to it’s advertising. The opportunity is there to leverage a storytelling medium and create brand fame.

Shane Geffen, ECD, HERO

In 2020, 70 commercials were shown during the Super Bowl broadcast, amounting to a total ad time of 46 minutes. You can see why brands need to stand out with disruptive work.

But imagine we approached more briefs and problems with a Super Bowl mindset. It doesn’t mean we need Super Bowl budgets; we just need to be more open to Super Bowl Bravery.

Alex Don, client lead, Common Ventures

You don’t need to spend Super Bowl money to make an impact, but you only get out what you put in.

Reinforcing Byron Sharp – target mass audiences rather than niche. A bigger audience pool means greater growth potential. Most successful brands achieve growth by consistently engaging a large and diverse audience.

People are engaged by things that are good and different. Consider best practices but don’t drown your ad with a checklist.

Sarah McGregor, ECD, dentsu Creative

I think it’s that even with the biggest budget in the world, you can still fail to be distinctive.

Our budgets are smaller, so we need to work even harder than our American friends to stand out – but we have all the tools at our disposal – we have ambition, a naturally irreverent sense of humour and inborn bravery – we just need to remember how important those things are when competing for a share of voice.


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