Hi, my name is Phil and I’m a Detroit Lions fan. It was easy being a Lions fan when I was working retail. Every season we would buy into the hype, get all excited, and then somewhere down the line get our hopes dashed by catch that wasn’t a catch, the pass interference call that wasn’t called (sorry New Orleans, it happened to us first), or the simple ineptitude of a team that couldn’t keep the best running back ever motivated enough to keep playing. It was always something different, but something always happened.
The good years were when it happened before the annual Thanksgiving Day game. Then I could focus on retail.
The bad years were when it happened later and I would get the heart-crushing news from a customer while working a Sunday afternoon in the store.
As a lifelong Lions fan, we are granted the right to pick another NFL team to root for. As a University of Michigan graduate, I chose the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. Y’all can hate me for that, but you can’t argue the numbers.
I tell you this to let you know I had more than a passing interest in the game as well as the ads last Sunday. Some of you who tuned in just for the ads were likely sorely disappointed at both the game and the ads. I know the ads let me down more than ever.
In fact, there was only one ad that truly stood out to me for being effective. It was the Bud Light Corn Syrup Delivery Ad where the king took a large barrel of corn syrup back to Miller Lite and Coors Light since Bud Light doesn’t use corn syrup and the other two do.
The ad wins for several reasons:
- They made only one point. “We don’t use corn syrup but our competitors do.”
- The humor was tied to the message. Humor is good in an ad because getting people to “feel” something is good. But too often the humor is gratuitous and doesn’t connect you to the true message. (The mint fox ad left a bad taste in my mouth both literally and figuratively and now I have no recollection what the ad was even about.)
- They spoke to their tribe. The ad gave all the Bud Light drinkers one more reason to feel good about drinking Bud Light.
- They got people to complain. Remember, your ad’s ability to attract is equal to its ability to repel. This ad repelled a lot of people including Miller Lite who felt compelled to take out a full page ad in the NY Times defending their use of corn syrup, and the corn growers of America who also complained. Those two actions alone testify to the power of that ad.
You can debate all you want about whether using corn syrup is good, bad, or indifferent. Bud Light recognized a clear difference between its ingredients and its competitors’ ingredients and found a fun, funny, and pointed way to get that message across.
There is one more thing Bud Light did right …
They told a story.
No matter what the year, the ads that get talked about the most all have one thing in common. They tell a story. Stories sell because stories make us feel (speak to the heart) and stories are easier to remember.
One of my sales reps for HABA USA emailed me to talk about the “story” for selling HABA this year. She knows that the better the story, the more products she will sell.
The lesson here is that when you can tell a story that makes people feel something while also getting across the one point you want people to remember, your ad is going to be more effective. Yes, you’ll get haters and complainers. Consider them a badge of honor that your ad was strong enough to get them to react.
I want to leave you with one more resource on storytelling. I ran across the following TEDx talk and was blown away. I highly encourage you set aside 17 minutes to watch it.
PS Just because an ad doesn’t make you compelled to take action doesn’t mean it wasn’t an effective ad. The story just wasn’t for you. The smart advertisers have figured out they don’t need to convince masses to grow. They need to convince niches. Target your stories and your message to a very narrow audience and convince that group incredibly well. You’ll be surprised how much more effective your advertising becomes.