Strength in Structure: The Quality of Superbowl Ads

Most people love the Superbowl atmosphere not just for the football, but for the variety of well-made ads that are created for this particular event. Two that are especially memorable are the Budweiser “Lost Puppy” ad and the Taco Bell “Viva Young” ad. The Budweiser commercial is about an adorable yellow lab puppy that gets lost but eventually finds its way back home after a long journey. The Taco Bell ad is about aged men and women who live in a retirement home sneaking out and partying all night (see hyperlinked pictures below for full videos).

These both target wide audiences simply because they were made for such a large event. The Lost Puppy commercial applies to anyone with a soft spot for yellow labs and beer, whereas, the Taco Bell commercial aims towards the elderly population or anyone who is a night owl. Each one of these commercials doesn’t present the company’s logo until after the climax of the story. This technique is beneficial to companies because they want to hook their audience first and make the ad relatable. In the Lost Puppy commercial the Budweiser logo is subtly presented on the mans hat throughout the video, but the more obvious presentation is at the end after all is resolved and the man can sit down, relax, and drink a beer. The Taco Bell ad placement appears in a similar fashion. After the partying is over and the old folks have had their fun, they enjoy one last stop at Taco Bell for a late night snack.

Each is a brilliant example of narrative structure. The expositions are the elderly person getting put to bed by a retirement home worker and when the puppy is wandering around in the barn. The inciting incidents are when the elderly person sneaks out of bed and when the puppy gets trapped inside the van. The rising actions are the elderly person getting out of bed and into a car with other old folks and when the puppy escapes the van and starts it’s long journey home. The climaxes are the elderly people partying and the puppy facing the wolf and the commercials finally resolve with the elderly people enjoying some taco bell and getting back to the retirement home and the puppy getting saved by it’s horse friends and being back home safe and sound.

The Lost Puppy advertisement is the most effective because it not only follows a stronger narrative structure, which is appealing to most viewers, but it also pulls at people’s heart strings because the main character is such an innocent and young puppy who is new to the world. People would be more willing to share a puppy video than an old person video, because most people care for puppies and find them easily relatable. The more relatable, the more effective. Superbowl ads have the opportunity to show how effective narrative structure is, and they nail it almost every time.

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