For $4 million dollars, one can buy half a minute of air time during the Super Bowl. With that kind of money being tossed around, you can bet top dollar was spent on the hottest talent in the advertising industry, those most able to influence you to buy a product.
The skills of advertisers today are sublte, sophisticated, and well beyond the public’s awareness of how they are being influenced. When you are standing in a grocery store, why do you gravitate towards one specific brand on a wall of similar products? You may be surprised to find out that while sometimes our decision may rest on a rational list of pros and cons, it can also be a feeling we get that leads our heart and our hand to pick up a certain product. It just feels right or better to do so. The reason usually leads back to advertising.
Hearts move most easily with stories. You may notice that commercials use a story-driven model to sell their stuff. Compare that with an ad where they merely display their product on a white background while an off-screen voice lists the benefits of using it. Even if the benefits are amazing, the commercial isn’t compelling. There’s something unsatisfactory about it. Stories satisfy.
Stories gain their power to sell when they are appropriately linked to the product. This is best done by metaphor and imagery. In the Super Bowl, there were some commercials where they had an engaging story, yet failed to properly tie their product to it. You may remember the chaos of the Dober-huahua commercial, but do you remember the product that was supposed to sell? A bright red Audi, which was tagged onto the end of the ad like an afterthought. The run-amuck Chihuahuas with CGI Doberman heads had nothing to do with the car, neither in metaphor nor imagery. It was ineffective, a failure. Other ads were successful and sophisticated.
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