Why Laugh When You Can Cry?

By: Meghan Saldutti

Super Bowl Commercials may or may not be more important than the actual football game. Every year, millions of Americans gather around their TVs to watch the two best NFL football teams go head to head to see who will bring home the Super Bowl trophy to the city they represent. Marketing teams take this is as an opportunity to advertise their products in the most creative and catching ways as possible. In the New York Times article “Super Bowl Commercials Go for Heart, Not Just Funny Bone”, author Emily Steel talks about how the “game plan” for the Super Bowl was to go straight for viewer’s hearts instead of making them laugh. Companies took this opportunity to talk about serious issues such as domestic violence, what it means to be a girl, and keeping children safe. Not all of the commercials were serious ones, though. Candy companies went for laughs, as well as T-Mobile, who used Kim Kardashian to mock herself taking selfies and posting them online 24/7.

Super Bowl commercials are expected to be funny to draw attention to certain products in order to market them properly. But perhaps marketing research teams realized to make their commercial and their products more memorable they decided to go with the more serious side of the stream. Perhaps they were aiming for a different audience such as young adults who would sympathize with the advertisements that were more sad.

Needs and wants of customers are something that must be taken into full consideration. In order to satisfy the “needs”, one must identify what a person feels deprived of. For example, in one of the Super Bowl Commercials that was aired, Budweiser portrayed a heart touching commercial about a horse rescuing a lost puppy and returning to its home. This portrayal captured the attention of millions of people, which means Budweiser advertised to millions of people and had the ability to satisfy the needs of many Americans with their ice cold beer. A “want” is a need that a person has that has been shaped by knowledge, culture, and personality. Budweiser chose to advertise their product by using a puppy that could draw attention to the audience of people 21 and older to market their alcoholic beverage.

When it comes to different targets of people, meaning ages, marketing professionals must find different ways to advertise their products. For example, in order to advertise to college students the product must somehow benefit the students, the price must be reasonable, the promotion strategy should be world of mouth and the placement of product must be easy to get to. In the New York Times article, Steel talks about how candy and snack brands went for laughs instead of seriousness. This could draw attention to college students because candy is easy to access and college students tend to snack a lot while studying or completing homework.

The Super Bowl commercials are good advertisements for all the companies who advertised because of the wide ranging audience who viewed the game this year. Some viewers were outraged by what was shown on TV and then took it upon themselves to go online and complain about it, which in the end is what marketers hope for because that means their product is worth talking about. Their mission has been accomplished: marketing their product to the world.


5 thoughts on “Why Laugh When You Can Cry?

  1. Chris Lantagne February 4, 2015 / 4:17 am

    I think this year for Super Bowl commercials was vastly different than previous years. Not just with the serious commercials, but just in general. For example, there were a lot of companies who surprisingly did NOT elect to make a Super Bowl commercial that we are all accustomed to seeing. Volkswagen did not elect to create a commercial despite being known as a company who usually does and does it quite well. GM, Ford and Audi are other companies that did the same. However, there were also companies who went all out on their commercial like Loctite’s glue advert. Loctite is a struggling company that decided to use their WHOLE advertising budget on one commercial.

    With these big names not electing to create a commercial, I start to wonder if companies are questioning whether it’s worth it to even run one. Some of course, like Loctite, believe the opposite. For a company to spend their entire advertising budget on one commercial is unheard of, but I personally love it. I like to see companies go outside the box and break away from the typical commercial. It’s the same reason why I was a fan of the serious commercials. The Nationwide advert was a shock to me because I wasn’t expecting it, but it also got me thinking even several minutes after it ran. The typical “cute dog” commercial that we see every year may be getting old now and I’m curious to see if companies will start thinking about creating a more powerful message without using humor. Everyone seems to be talking about the Nationwide ad. Positive or negative comments, it doesn’t matter, is all good for Nationwide.


  2. Kevin McAtamney February 5, 2015 / 4:02 pm

    I felt that the more serious Super Bowl commercials were great. I learned about this technique in my undergraduate at the The University of Arizona. It’s called cognitive disonnence. It’s a marketing theme where the company shows you something that will create a negative, rather then positive, impact on you when you are done viewing the commercial. For instance, the nationwide commercial that talked about the children and how they wouldn’t be able to grow up and do all of those adult things because their parents weren’t careful is a great example of cognitive disonnence. They showed a tipped over broken T.V. for god’s sake. We can only assume that it landed on the child and THAT negative feeling leaves a lasting impact. I was really surprised that Nationwide had received negative backlash from their commercials but I felt that they were very efficient and did their job. I mean, people are continually talking about them right? Humor has been used before, constantly, in previous Super Bowls. I liked the different approach that companies took this year.


  3. Emma Tkachuk February 12, 2015 / 4:50 pm

    In my opinion I believe that the more serious Super Bowl commercials were needed. Although some people did not think they were appropriate for the occasion they brought awareness to issues that needed to be addressed. For example the Nationwide commercial on Make Safe Happen, although there were many angry people who voiced out about the inappropriateness of the time and place of the commercial it is a very serious matter that was brought to light. At the time people tuning into the Super Bowl may not have given the commercial that much though, but after the fact it is something that made an impression on them that will last longer than the Kim Kardashian T-Mobile commercial. Weeks after the Super Bowl the commercial is still being talked about and has nearly seven million views on youtube, which indicates that people who did not see the commercial at the time heard the controversy and streamed it or people were re-watching the commercial. Make Safe Happen brought awareness to a preventable action that could save lives of many children and I felt that it being broadcasted on one of the most popular TV events was a smart marketing strategy on Nationwide’s part.


  4. Mattia Lanzi February 12, 2015 / 9:43 pm

    In my opinion, the commercials that I saw during Super Bowl’s final were great. I’m from Italy, and this was my first Super Bowl in my whole life. Every

    single person that I have met a few days before the game, was both excited for the final, but also, and especially, for the commercials. So, since I do not

    know much about American Football, during the game I was very focused on the commercials, and at the end I was very impressed about them. I believe

    that bad publicity does not exist. For instance, T-Mobile used Kim Kardashian as the main character for its commercial just because Ms. Kardashian has long

    been the principal topic of all the people around America. So T-Mobile has put her on it, mainly because everyone can remember and talk about that

    commercial and its product. I have also seen many commercials that were focused on the people’s emotional aspect, even if the sponsored product had no

    connection with the commercial’s story. I think that is a fabulous marketing idea. There are still people who are talking about how sad or dole was the

    commercial of that certain beer, or how cruel and frightening was another commercial’s story of another product. Businesses that sell those products want

    that reaction. They want people that when they have sad moments they unconsciously remind and associate those moments to the product seen on the

    commercials during the Super Bowl. I have also seen, many business companies who preferred the “other side”, such as sarcasm and irony to impress their

    public. For example FIAT’s commercial was hilarious. There is not a right or wrong choice for me, but I much preferred commercials that have focused more

    on the emotional aspect of people, in fact, those commercials are still on the people’ mind and mouth. – Mattia Lanzi-


  5. Ariel Lobo April 29, 2015 / 1:16 am

    Superbowl commercials are somethings that a lot of people look forward too, more than the actual football game itself. There are some serious ones and some very funny ones. The serious ones are a an eye catcher I suppose. Sometimes the audience is expecting a funny commercial based on how it started but then takes a turn for seriousness. It might catch the the audience off guard and perhaps grasps the attention more than a funny one would. I agree completely that there should be a mix of both seriousness and “funniness”. If a company were maybe to do 2 commercials one serious and one funny it would grasps the attention of the audience even more than just focusing on one.


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