Humor and Hashtags Drive Super Bowl Ads

February 4, 2013

Dozens of commercial debuted during Sunday’s Super Bowl, and some got more buzz on Monday than others.

At up to $4 million for 30 seconds of airtime, advertisers went all out to make their commercials stand out. Many of them utilized online campaigns, well-known faces and tried to make people laugh.

Forrest Pando, co-founder of Charlottesville-based video production company Citrus Cinema, says one of the biggest themes this year was “weird funny.”

"Right now, that's what people enjoy,” Pando said. “They like to turn on the TV and see something that makes them laugh as opposed to a very serious commercial or a diamond commercial that's very romantic.”

Pando says a key part in keeping the buzz going even after a commercial airs is reaching across platforms. He says catering not only to the TV audience but also the web can help an ad evolve long after the game is over.

"You want your video to be good enough that people will want to share it the next day,” said Pando. “I think many of them tried to reach that, ‘It's so funny I had to share it on Facebook with my friends.’"

But out of all social media platforms, Twitter may have reigned supreme Sunday night.

Several of the Super Bowl commercials included designated hashtags, designed to streamline web chatter about the product or company.

On Sunday, Twitter announced this Super Bowl, or #SB47, was the most-Tweeted Super Bowl in history. Tweeters racked up more than 24 million Tweets about the game and halftime show.

“By the beginning of the second half, the volume of Tweets had already surpassed last year’s Tweet total,” the company announced on its blog.

It wasn’t just the ads that made viewers laugh that are getting attention. The top spot on USA Today’s Ad Meter went to a sentimental clip from Anheuser-Busch. The ad shows a Clydesdale horse being reunited with its trainer after several years apart.

The advertisements may have splashed across our television screens for just half a minute or so, but Pando says a lot more money and manpower go into the ads than most people realize.

"It's four million just to get it on air, but that doesn't count production costs, hiring actors, hiring people to work full time figuring out what that 30 seconds is going to be about,” he said.

But those companies are likely to make up for that massive price tag not only from sales brought in by the buzzworthy ads, but also from the Internet.

"The next day, [the ads] are uploaded to YouTube for free, and now they're making money off it by having advertisements within advertisements,” said Pando. “So, you're watching their video and up pops a little Lexus banner or something at the bottom of YouTube, and so they'll make their money back very fast."

Pando says local businesses can learn a lesson from the methods used to construct Super Bowl ads. He says, because there is such a big push to deliver content that people will want to share, putting more thought and cash into production can pay off in the long run for business owners.

"They'll see much bigger yields as far as people talking about their commercials on Facebook and stretching far beyond just buying air space," he said.

Fifty-five ads filled the commercial breaks during the Super Bowl game.

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