February 8, 2011

Storytelling During the Super Bowl

For the millions of people watching Super Bowl XLV on television, the game provided all kinds of storylines. So did the commercials. As a visual storyteller, I watched the commercials looking for the best job of storytelling during the Super Bowl.

It is easy to find opinions about the commercials, from professionals in the world of advertising to viewers who rank them for USA Today. Many people admit they watch the Super Bowl more for the commercials than the game itself.

You can divide this year’s ads into two categories: humorous and dramatic. The one I've chosen for best in storytelling falls into both categories.

The Budweiser “Wild West” commercial is one minute long, but notice how there’s not a spoken word until almost 20 seconds into the spot. Sound plays an important role in this commercial. The jingle of spurs…the pounding of the Clydesdales’ hooves… the powerful music…all set the tone for an Old West saloon fight.

Then comes the element of surprise. Did you really expect the cowboy to start singing? The predictable outcome would’ve had the cowboy shooting his gun, not turning the saloon into a giant karaoke bar.

All good stories have an identifiable beginning, middle and end. Most commercials aren’t really stories. They just try to capture your attention and promote a product. There’s nothing wrong with that. But telling a story is a great way to make a product memorable. In my opinion, Budweiser won out for best storytelling during the Super Bowl.

Do you think any stories stood out among this year’s Super Bowl commercials?

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