Are Super Bowl ads more successful if they tell a story?

2017 Doritos Super Bowl Commercial via YouTube.

Whether you are rooting for either team in the Super Bowl, or you do not watch football at all, the commercials are what make watching the game most exciting.

The 2017 Doritos Super Bowl Commercial depicts a crew of dogs outside a grocery store. They eagerly watch customers leaving the grocery store with Doritos, and proceed to plot to maneuver themselves into the store to get their paws on some.

The advertisement primarily targets dog lovers. There are different breeds of dogs in the commercial to intrigue viewers who have different preferences. The ad is humorous, as the dogs ridiculously stack and dress themselves when checking out inside the store to look like a tall human.

The brand is initially addressed at the beginning of the commercial when the dogs catch a glimpse of the wall of Doritos from outside of the store and immediately start to beg. The Doritos bags are placed throughout the remainder of the ad to remind the viewer of what specifically these dogs are going to great lengths to receive.

The ad also tells a story, as listed below:

Narrative Structure Diagram via ComStrat 475.
  1. Exposition — The dogs are outside of the grocery store, and spot the Doritos inside.
  2. Inciting Incident — The dogs realize that they are not allowed inside the grocery store. The dogs plan ways to sneak into the grocery store, but they proceed to be kicked out.
  3. Rising Action —The dogs notice that if they are disguised as a man, they are able to enter the grocery store.
  4. Climax — The dogs stack themselves and wear a large coat, sunglasses, and hat. They are able to purchase the Doritos.
  5. Falling Action — The dogs successfully leave the store with Doritos.
  6. Denouement — The man who kicked out the dogs is oblivious and waves.

Based on Super Bowl commercial research from professor Keith A. Quesenberry, a commercial is more successful and receives higher ratings when it tells a story.

Sex appeal, humor, emotion and animals do not play a factor in the success of a commercial, according to Quesenberry. There is no discernible pattern. People are likely to draw their attention to a story instead.

2011 Doritos Super Bowl Commerical via YouTube.

There is a similar Doritos Super Bowl commercial from 2011, titled Pug Attack. A man inside his home is eating Doritos as his dog starts running towards him from outside the home. In slow motion, the pug runs, and finally breaks down the door to access the Doritos.

There is less of a distinguishable story line in this ad; the majority of it shows the dog sprinting towards its owner in slow motion. The 2017 ad is ultimately more successful because there are more elements that make up an engaging story that leaves the viewer wanting to keep watching to see what happens at the end.