Creative Lessons from the Super Bowl

storyThe great director, Steven Spielberg wrote. “The most amazing thing for me is that every single person who sees a movie, not necessarily one of my movies, brings a whole set of unique experiences. Now, through careful manipulation and good storytelling, you can get everybody to clap at the same time, to hopefully laugh at the same time, and to be afraid at the same time.”

Full disclosure. I watch one sporting event a year and that is, of course, the Super Bowl. And, although I totally got into the brutality and beauty of last night’s surprising game, it was the commercials that grabbed my interest. The reality is that if advertisers are going to spend more than 360 million dollars pushing their product, they have done their homework, analyzing trends and keeping their fingers on the customers pulse.

Some were better than others but, if you are in the business of speaking on creativity as I am, there was an overall lesson that can be applied to selling, social media, writing, making movies or teaching. This profound lesson is that messages that tell a story, are heartfelt slightly weird or have humor will also have the greatest impact on an audience. They will be the ones that are most talked about, either in a positive or negative fashion..

Perhaps that is why the commercials that stuck out were sometimes funny like the Mexican Avocado commercial, weird like watching Jeff Bridges in the SquareSpace’s power of Om ad, sobering with Nationwide’s approach, odd like Fiat’s Viagra-like pill add, edgy like Coca Cola’s cyberbullying approach and heartfelt as was Anheuser-Busch’s “lost dog” ad, Doves’ “Calls for Dad” and McDonalds “Pay with Love” spot.

Like them or not, criticize their approach or not, the lessons are clear. If you want to break through the endless static of today’s world and get people to pay attention, tell a story that impacts on an emotional level (funny, weird, sobering, odd, edgy or heartfelt) level. Take a lesson from the Super Bowl and, if you want to make a difference with your communication as a leader or a layperson, learn how to tell a story.