Super Bowl Ads: breaking down the storytelling.

As the NFL season takes off, people will soon find themselves predicting which teams are going to make it to the big game. Football is great and all but, being the Comm nerd that I am, the commercials are the by far the best part. Every year there are ads that make us laugh, think, and sometimes even tear up. Super Bowl ads are typically the best ads of the entire year. With that being said, they tend to do a very good job following specific storytelling guidelines. Two commercials really stood out to me.

#1 Taco Bell — Viva Young
When you think of Taco Bell, senior citizens aren’t exactly the first demographic that comes to mind. Taco Bell made a light hearted and entertaining add that focuses on a group of senior citizen breaking loose from their senior living center and having some fun. The story begins with the group heading out for a night on the town. Scenes of them dancing at clubs, pulling pranks, and getting tattoos fill the majority of the piece. Then around 45 seconds into the commercial the group is seen eating at Taco Bell. The ad follows the narrative structure pretty well. There’s an exposition- the nurse saying goodnight to the first elderly man we see. The rising actions- all of the crazy shenanigans. The climax- them eating Taco Bell signaling that their night is coming to a close. The falling action- they speed away back home, just before sunrise. And the resolution- walking back into the retirement center after a wild night.

#2 Coca-Cola — Going All The Way
This ad is a really cute story everyone can enjoy. This ad uses a little bit of humor and a little tug at the heart strings to draw viewers in. The scene leads us to think that this football player isn’t very good. While in a turn of events, he gets the ball and makes a run for it! This ad does a good job keeping the viewers entertained while not introducing the products until about 50 seconds into it. When the boy scores the touchdown one might think that is where this story ends, but in fact the boy keeps running which is what makes this story unique. This ad also follows the narrative story telling structure quite well. There’s an exposition- coach calling him in when he’s not even wearing a helmet, other players threatening him if he messes up again. The rising action- the player running through all kinds of obstacles to get to the field. There’s even a bit of a fake climax within the rising action- where the boy makes the touchdown, but then keeps running. The climax is the boy finally making it to the stadium and celebrating his touchdown. The falling action is him enjoying an ice cold Coca-Cola.

Both ads are strong in their own ways. Of the two I debriefed, I think the Taco Bell ad is your typical “pushing the boundaries”, humorous, and entertaining Super Bowl ad. Ads like this one have come to be expected. The Coca-Cola ad is a classic. It’s about overcoming adversity and an underdog winning. You can’t go wrong with either plot type when it comes to Super Bowl Ads. I think men are more likely to enjoy the Taco Bell and women are more likely to enjoy the Coca-Cola ad. Even though the Coke ad is about a football player, it’s more sentimental with him being young and adorable. The ads definitely play to their own strengths and each have a unique way of telling a story.