Pop of Mind #1: What’s the Best Super Bowl Ad of All Time – and Why?

A quick introduction to explain who I am and the purpose of this blog. I’m the author of Tongue Fu! (St. Martins Press) and the upcoming book POP! Stand Out In Any Crowd (Perigee, Sept. ’06).

I’m also the 14-time Emcee of the world-renowned Maui Writers Conference, a consultant and award-winning speaker with a 20 year track record of helping individuals and organizations break out instead of blend in.

Twice a week, I study the top newspapers, magazines, and TV shows to see what POP’s out. I then write about it in this brief blog, explaining why it POP’d and how you can use that to help your offering get noticed, get bought.

The premise of POP! is that you need Purposeful, Original, Pithy marketing messages to stand out in today’s saturated, time-starved society.

The good news is, you don’t have to spend millions of dollars or hire a branding company to develop an attention-getting title or tagline that gets your idea or invention the support and sales it deserves. As 4-time Pulitzer nominee Fawn Germer says, “You don’t have to be a creative genius to use Sam’s techniques, but using her techniques can make you a creative genius.”

So, what’s the best NFL Super Bowl commercial of all time? I select Coca-Cola’s classic ad featuring football player “Mean Joe” Greene. Why? It memorably and favorably imprints the sponsoring product by telling a “roller-coaster” story in less than 60 seconds.

A “roller-coaster” story takes us for a ride and delivers a satisfying emotional pay-off. The ad shows an exhausted, mud-covered “Mean Joe” limping down the tunnel after a game. An innocent-faced boy calls his name. “Mean Joe” glowers. The boy offers his Coca-Cola. Joe pauses, takes it, glugs it down, starts walking back to the locker room. Dejected, the boy begins to leave. Suddenly, Joe turns back, says “Hey kid,” and throws his jersey to him. The kid brightens in wonderment and says a heartfelt “Gee, thanks Joe.” The ad ends with “Mean Joe” flashing a huge smile, holding the bottle of Coke.

“Roller coaster” stories take us on the classic Hero’s Journey, as described by Joseph Campbell. The protagonist leaves home, goes out in the world, encounters a challenge, triumphs, and returns home victorious.

Does your marketing message, ad, article, web copy, or sales presentation take people on an emotional roller-coaster ride? If so, good for you. If not, include a meaningful “before and after” story that engages your target audience.

Check this blog on Monday, Feb. 6 when I’ll explain which TV ad POP’d out of the 2006 Super Bowl – and how you can apply that insight to your project.