Marketing Lessons from Super Bowl LVII Commercials

Sean Galli
Marketing Lessons from Super Bowl LVII Commercials

There’s something special about that one Sunday in February when family and friends draw together in front of their televisions to watch the culmination of a season’s worth of practice, effort and determination. Of course, we’re talking about three hours of Super Bowl commercials!

Oh, yeah – somehow an actual football game happened at the Super Bowl this year! Whether you were cheering for the Philadelphia Eagles or the Kansas City Chiefs, you’ve got to admit that this year’s game featured some actual football and not a runaway score. The nailbiter game went down to the wire and helped solidify a terrific entertainment spectacle.

But in what’s become an annual tradition for many, watching the commercials was just as big a deal as the game itself (and sometimes a bigger deal). And with commercial spots going for a record $7 million for 30 seconds, advertisers came out in force to take advantage of the riveted television audience. Estimates are north of 100 million people watched the big game – a certified smorgasbord for advertisers!

Those numbers mean you probably watched it too. Which commercials did you enjoy? Which did you think were a waste of time? And, most importantly, what community bank and credit union marketing strategies can we learn from these commercials?


Family and Generational Marketing: T-Mobile


Cell phone service provider T-Mobile offered one of the more touching spots of the evening, dashed with just the right amount of humor. The ad featured actor Bradley Cooper loosely playing the role of a T-Mobile retail associate trying to explain to his mother how all things cellular work. If the entire commercial was shot as loose and ad lib as it appears, the production crew and writers deserve even more credit. The end result is a spot that finds a way to be both touching and endearing. Cooper and his mother do an excellent job playing off each other and poking gentle fun at generational differences.

Different generations require different marketing approaches and messages. What works well with Baby Boomers may not work as well for Gen Xers or Millennials. A spot that hits on multiple generations, like this T-Mobile gem, is marketing gold.

Your financial institution can look at this model as a great way to connect with people on a family basis as well as hitting different generations. Establishing relevance across generations can be a tricky proposition, but it’s not impossible. As community bank and credit union marketing strategies look for angles to grow, marketing that highlights family and generational quirks will become more important.


Storytelling: Disney


Disney celebrated their 100th anniversary with a particularly heartwarming Super Bowl commercial. Featuring clips from Disney classics over the decades as well as heartfelt imagery of families enjoying the Happiest Place On Earth, the House That Mickey Built had no trouble landing a strong emotional right hook.

And how did they do it? Like Disney does so well — the age-old art of storytelling.

Powerful communicators like Disney (and financial institution marketing professionals) understand the importance of storytelling when trying to connect with an audience. People learn best from stories and parables. People connect best with narratives that touch them on a deeply emotional level. People choose retailers (including credit unions and community banks) that make them feel good, just like a classic Disney film.

Compelling advertising understands that emotions trump facts when it comes to influencing buyers. Emotions and stories are completely intertwined. Stories help drive emotions. Emotions make stories worth watching or reading. Your community bank or credit union marketing strategies cannot simply overwhelm a consumer or potential consumer with a list of product or service features.

The adage “features tell but benefits sell” absolutely comes into play here. Reaching people with stories and anecdotes is a much more proactive way to not only boost your overall brand awareness but also convert more leads into actual metric-moving sales.

There’s a reason people pay enormous amounts of money to feel good visiting a Disney park or watching a Disney movie. Tap into that same reasoning with powerful storytelling.


Go for the Emotions: The Farmer’s Dog


Speaking of emotions, one particular spot from The Farmer’s Dog will likely win this year’s award for the best tearjerker. Being a glutton for punishment, I wasn’t satisfied with just the Super Bowl spot and found an extended version guaranteed to make you reach for the Kleenex.

In this spot, we are treated to the shared lives of a young girl and her dog. Using an emotional soundtrack and adorable imagery, the commercial grabs you by the feelers from the first moment and doesn’t let go. The viewer is treated to a glimpse into the lives of the girl and her dog, from days of childhood to being a teenager to having children of her own; all while sharing these events with her beloved dog.

 While the commercial doesn’t pull a straight up “Old Yeller” ending on us, it is fairly well implied without having to go there. People love their dogs. For many people, dogs (and other pets) become not just pets but an extension of the actual family unit. The best marketing is all about peeling back layers of consumer cynicism and connecting emotionally. Empathy factors strongly into play here. While watching this particular commercial, the viewer can absolutely feel the love between human and dog.

As sweet as the ad is, it definitely has a point — to sell dog food. As awesome as your community bank or credit union marketing strategies are, they also have a definite point — to improve consumers’ lives with the products and solutions you offer. Just like the dog food company is striving to earn consumers for the life of their pet, your credit union or community bank must also look to emotions in advertising and earn consumers the same way. In many ways, your advertising should have a higher EQ (emotional quotient) than IQ.


The Funny Bone: Dunkin’ Donuts


If there is one universal connector between all humans, it’s humor. We’re talking about comedy here. Sometimes in the world of financial institutions, there is a hesitancy about using comedy. After all, what could possibly be funny about money? Plenty, actually.

Dunkin’ Donuts did a terrific job with their Super Bowl commercial by using comedy to connect people to a brand message. Using Hollywood A-Listers Ben Affleck and his wife Jennifer Lopez, the commercial features Affleck taking on the role of a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through employee, complete with a New England accent and wowed customer reactions. Using humor, the spot landed solid punches with one customer who did not know who Affleck was (oh, the horror!) and another that practically crawled out of her vehicle for a drive-through selfie.

Thinking about a wealthy and successful Hollywood star putting on the Dunkin’ Donuts apron for a part-time gig is comedy gold. Having his wife drive up and catch him (all the while not forgetting to order a glazed donut for herself) was just, well, icing on the glazed donut.

Humor and advertising absolutely works. When done well, humor can further empower the emotional connections discussed above, as well as enhancing consumer loyalty. And while the world of financial products and services can feel like a dry and boring place to many consumers, humor lets them behind the curtain and elevates a “boring” errand like banking to the level of laughter. Other players in consumer finance, such as Allstate and Geico, have made humor mainstays in their advertising.

Don’t be afraid of using humor in your community bank or credit union marketing strategies as well! While you should certainly vet your finished ads by other people before consumers see it, don’t shy away from comedy in your marketing.

Super Bowl LVII certainly delivered a fantastic game as well as memorable commercials. You can learn invaluable lessons about community bank or credit union marketing strategies by observing these ads. When it comes to truly connecting with your members or customers - family, feelings, fun and fables are a critical part of the marketing mix.

Ready to apply the lessons of Super Bowl LVII to your community bank or credit union's marketing strategy? Contact On the Mark Strategies today to learn how our team of experts can help you incorporate the four F's of family, feelings, fun, and fables into your campaigns.

Sean Galli
Marketing Coordinator
Sean Galli
Remember to Link Bank or Credit Union Vision to Action

Remember to Link Bank or Credit Union Vision to Action

Link your bank or credit union vision to real impact with this On The Mark Strategies article. Use onboarding and storytelling to create something memorable.