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For the past week or so, I've seen a hilarious Volkswagen video clip (see link at end of article) floating around that has a little kid in a mini Darth Vader costume trying to use the force. What's odd is that this was supposed to be a Super Bowl ad. One would think that with all the money Volkswagen is spending to place the ad during the Super Bowl that they wouldn't want to release it until the big game. Or perhaps this is a just a teaser for another commercial. Regardless, this little ad has been viewed by over 10 million people already, demonstrating that one does not need the Super Bowl to have a Super Bowl type ad or a Super Bowl sized audience. It just needs to be a good ad and an audience to share it with.
Rather than giving tips on how to make a your own Super Bowl ad, I thought I'd share the six elements of what goes into making a horrible Super Bowl ad:
1. Ignore your audience: Although the Super Bowl does attract close to 100 million viewers, the audience is more targeted that one would think. I think it's safe to assume that the majority of viewers would rather watch a Jason Statham movie than a Lifetime movie. If you want to fail at making a good, try to make an ad that appeals to everyone. If you want people to actually buy your product or service, make it with your audience in mind
2. Forget the visuals: I hate local car commercials that bombard me with text and loud dialog on what a good deal I'll be getting. I hate watching bad actors trying to be good actors, and I hate the schlocky humor. I have never bought a single car from one of these places. There's a local grocery store that uses these same techniques, and I don't shop there either. Some of the best Super Bowl ads, and even the best movies, have very little dialog. The story is told visually rather than through dialog. The mini Darth Vader commercial, for example doesn't have a single word of dialog.
3. Don't get emotional: A good commercial should evoke emotional responses from your audience throughout the entirety of the commercial. It can't just have one funny moment. It has to build up to it with other emotions like nostalgia, romance, tension, etc. But you have to do this with your audience in mind. The mini Darth Vader plays on the cuteness of the child, and the nostalgia of the demographic that Volkswagen is targeting with the commercial: people who grew up on Star Wars during the 80s. And then it ends with one final humorous moment.
4. Be pitchy: Some of the best ads don't even talk about the product during the commercial. Brand messaging is more about evoking specific emotions and telling a story than it is about logos and taglines. Drop the pitch and tell a good story.
5. Be viral for viral sake: You don't have to dress your grandfather up like a giant baby, put him in a shopping cart, and push him around in a mall in order to have a viral video. You don't have to blow up your dad's car with pyrotechnics and slime in order to have a viral video. A viral video is a phenomenon, not a technique. It simply means a video is being passed around. So if you want your video to go viral, just make a good video, send it to your friends, and make it easy to share.
6. Go Hollywood: You don't need fancy equipment, special effects, or even good actors to make a good viral video. You just need a good story told visually well with a camcorder, or even your camera phone. Most computers now come with some kind of basic video editing software, and even music making software. If you can't get actors, use the bad acting to your advantage.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to set up my DVR to record the Super Bowl so I can skip the game, and go straight to the commercials. May the force be with you.
Here is the link to the video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R55e-uHQna0