Small Business Marketing Lessons from Super Bowl 2015 Commercials (that don’t cost $9 million to learn)

By Ella Wilson

If you can stop crying long enough (They really went with the heartstrings tactics this year – Get out your tissues!), there are a lot of great marketing lessons small businesses can learn from this year’s Super Bowl 2015 commercials.

Don’t be discouraged by the fact that these ads cost $9 million for just 60 seconds (and that’s not including production costs). With a little ingenuity, you can use the same strategies the big names use to grab and gain customers for life.

HIT: Dove Men+Care – “Real strength”

Have a dad? Are a dad? Married to a dad? Is there anyone this commercial doesn’t appeal to?

Though we usually advise against ads that aren’t specifically targeted to a chosen group, this commercial did “wide reaching” the right way. By latching on to a universally held belief (good fathers care) that also inspires very personalized reflections from each viewer, Dove Men+Care hit the mark with an inspiring commercial that was both memorable and motivating.

When you were watching that commercial, $100 says you were thinking about your own dad, what kind of dad you’d like to be, or another special dad in your life. Maybe you were thinking your dad was a real jerk. Who knows? But no way were you not thinking something during this commercial. It was impossible not to interact with this ad because it speaks to a very integral part of the human experience – fatherhood, love, and growing up.

Lesson learned: Inspiring a very personal emotion/story within the viewer’s psyche is a powerful tool for connection.

MISS: Nissan – “With Dad”

This one is a miss because, though it certainly tugged at the heartstrings with a cover of “Cat’s in the Cradle” and images of a sad kid, what exactly was the point? How long did it take you to figure out what was going on? Or did you at all? (Honestly, I had to have someone else explain it to me)

It’s never clear whether the dad is suffering from being away from his son. All we know is that he is away – sort of. The audience doesn’t know if he’s away a lot or not. Maybe he’s just away when he’s at work – like everybody else on Earth. This convoluted messaging loses the point, and I’m not sure I want to buy the same car as an absentee father (is that supposed to be a selling point?).

Lesson learned: Don’t frustrate your audience with unclear messaging. Make sure you’ve got a point, and then make sure it’s clear to your audience.

HIT: Always – “Like a Girl”

How do you sell feminine hygiene products during a male-dominated sporting event AND spread a little awareness, too? Like this.


This commercial was an easy, straight-forward way to spread the message that gender stereotyping is damaging. The simple, to-the-point messaging, along with the juxtaposition of the older girls’ negative attitudes about what it means to be “like a girl” versus the young girls’ positive impressions drives the point home hard.

Will it sell feminine hygiene products? You betcha it will. Because Always is going for that “We’re in this together” feel, and customers will remember them as an ally who is “on their side.”

Lesson learned: If you can find a way to make your customers feel like you’re on the same team, you’ll get brand loyalty by the bucket-load.

MISS: Game of War – “Who I Am”

One of the five worst ads of the night according to the USA Today Ad Meter, this commercial was relying on the power of Kate Upton’s cleavage to make an impression. The problem is, I can’t open up my computer without seeing Kate Upton’s biggest assets in at least one blog post or ad or commercial every day. She’s old news.

The problem is, Game of War was putting all their chips on the idea that men like boobs, so putting Kate Upton in a bustier would make their company stand out. Not so. Ms. Upton is overexposed in more ways than one. This ad was just more of the same noise, and also up against some truly moving competition that outshined the Game of War commercial in a big way.

Lesson learned: If you want people to remember you, you’ve got to give them something memorable – not something 800 people have given them before.

Need help marketing like the big names?

GetUWired can make it happen. Give us a call today at 877-236-9094 or visit today.

About Ella Wilson

Ella WilsonElla Wilson is GetUWired’s “Queen of Words.” This world-class marketing copywriter is a former journalist and travel writer who’s spent the last decade weaving gripping tales for publications coast to coast. She’s got her finger on the pulse of today’s marketing trends. Notable clients who have been graced with her powerful prose include FUBU founder and Shark Tank star Daymond John, self-help star and Emmy-award winner Rhonda Britten, and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Daniel Amen.

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