Big game or big business? Sometimes the best lessons can come from the most unlikely places...
Pretty much every VO actor I know dreams of landing a Superbowl gig, playing to one of the largest TV audiences of the year - over 100 million viewers! But even if we don't land that gig (this year), there is a lot to be learned from the big game. From the amount of money that brands spend on advertising to the creative strategies that agencies use to grab people’s attention, we can't afford to skip watching and studying these commercials for golden nuggets of entrepreneurial wisdom. Every brand seems to be at its creative best, telling stories and tugging at our heartstrings - or making us laugh like crazy! (Why can't we have that year-round?) Here are five lessons I took away from this year’s Super Bowl:
1. Storytelling Builds a Memorable Brand
We have heard it over and over - as actors, we must be storytellers. The most effective Super Bowl commercials tell a story that audiences can relate to. Similar to your brand, these stories help viewers remember what they saw and felt during the commercial. Stories can also be used to effectively connect with your audience on an emotional level and build loyalty with your customers.
The E*Trade talking baby came back this year out of retirement after his first stint in 2014 helping users to navigate the world of investing. It was great to come back to the story and find out where he's been all these years. Not sure how he does it though - he just never seems to age! :)
OF COURSE, it would be awesome to have a commercial spot that featured your voice during the Superbowl. But guess what - You don't need an expensive ad spot to make an impression on your clients. Your business brand can tell a story about your product - YOU, in a multitude of ways, starting with your product performance. Do what you need to do to build those acting skills! No matter the copy, it's important to build in the elements of story And even if you're not voicing TV ads during the Super Bowl, you can still use storytelling in any number of ways — blogs, videos, and more — to reach your audience and build your brand.
"As entrepreneurs, we can't afford to skip watching and studying these commercials for golden nuggets of entrepreneurial wisdom."
2. Emotions Sell, Even in Business
Emotion is an essential ingredient for building relationships with customers. It's a universal language that everyone — no matter their nationality, race, or gender — can understand. If your brand doesn't have a human side, then you're missing out on one of the most powerful marketing tools available to you. Businesswise, let your potential clients connect with YOU the human, not just the logo, text, or email that you push out when marketing or communicating. Take a moment to reach out and connect with your clients, via phone, video conference, or better yet, in person, and let them know you care.
Don't underestimate the impact emotion has on customer behavior either; it's what turns shoppers into repeat customers and loyal brand advocates. The emotional connection is what keeps people sharing your content across social media platforms with their friends. Make sure you remember to bring that POV and nuanced emotion to your performances so you can connect with your client and your client's customers, and I assure you they will keep coming back for more!
For many years, some of my absolute favorite commercials have been of the iconic Clydesdale horses from Budweiser. And who can forget that PUPPY! But what do lost puppies have to do with beer? Well, people may not remember the product by name, but they'll definitely remember the puppy and the emotion sparked by its commercial — in this case, how it made them feel love for each animal's journey as well as pride for an American-made product.
Here's this year's winner:
3. Laughter is the Best Medicine
Some brands used the Super Bowl as a chance to show off their sense of humor and create ads that are memorable, entertaining, and fun. Humor is a great way to cut through the clutter and get people’s attention. With Superbowl commercials typically being longer than average, there is more time to be able to write copy to deliver the humor effectively.
In your business, connecting with your client and sharing a laugh is a great way to break the ice and bond on a more human level, whether it be through direct communication, or through funny stories you post on your blog, or even a humorous TikTok video or character performance that entertains on your YouTube channel.
Being able to understand and hit the comedic element in copy is an important skill for voice talent. Spend some time with your copy to really analyze and look for these elements to bring out in your read. A casting director will appreciate a talent who can recognize and execute this. If you ever have done a directed read and you heard (or saw through the glass) people laughing - you know you nailed it!
VO Peeps VIPeeps membership group has periodic "Find the Funny" classes that you can take to learn more about how to successfully find and execute the humor in your scripts.
Here are a few of my favorite funny commercials from this year's Super Bowl:
You can even warm up with the tongue twisters in this commercial below!
4. Take a Risk
Entrepreneurs are known for taking risks. Why? Because they believe in the product or service they are offering, and are willing to take chances for their business to succeed. This year, a 30-second spot on NBC's telecast cost up to $7 million — up from the typical price tag of $5.6 million CBS logged last year. Whoa! That's a lot of money. But what an amazing opportunity to advertise to millions of people in one sitting. Risky? YES! Talk about an investment!
Speaking of risk and investment, the same advice pertains to you and your business. If you want to make your brand stand out from the crowd, you've got to take risks. Not just any risks, though — make sure they are strategic and calculated, based on experience, research, and gut instinct. A sound investment in yourself and in your business can have a great payoff in the end. So - go ahead - invest in that coaching, take that acting class, buy that Accounting software, or upgrade your equipment.
And don't forget to take risks in your performance choices too. Casting directors love a talent who is unique and doesn't sound like everyone else! Take some time to really study the copy and create a scene that takes your story to a new level and showcases good acting choices. Instead of just rushing through every audition, make a commitment to spend an extra 5 minutes to research the copy and brand and think about what unique point of view you can bring to it.
Check out my VO BOSS - Cast Voices Agent 2020 podcast episode below where Liz Atherton and I cast a super fun project and discuss the importance of bringing your unique self to the audition!
5. Leave Them Wanting More
One of the most effective tools that you can use as a business owner is anticipation. It's a tool that every single major company out there uses in some way, shape, or form.
The fundamental principle behind anticipation is to always leave people wanting more. While it seems simple (and it is), this principle works because it taps into a very basic need that all human beings have: the need for closure. We are excited for the next time, or what happens next, and when we don't get that closure, we feel uneasy.
Your goal should be to leave your clients so happy, that they will always want to come back for more. Be dependable, flexible, easy to deal with, and commit to giving them a great product. Every. single. time.
Some Super Bowl ads are so good they become part of our culture. The Avocados from Mexico ads are great examples. The first-ever produce-based ad was one of the most recalled ad during the 2015 Super Bowl, despite having one of the lowest budgets. How did they do this? Well, they have created an ongoing story with their ads. Each year, they always leave you wanting more.
If you have not yet watched any Superbowl ads, I highly recommend doing it now. Do yourself a favor and take notes on what brands spend big bucks on to get their message across. What emotions were at play, and what story were they trying to tell? Pay attention to the voiceover in those commercials as well, to see how it complimented and worked with the story.
As you continue to build your business, remember the lessons of this year’s Superbowl commercials. Take creative risks, and think outside the box. The Super Bowl might be over, but it's never too late to adjust your game plan for success!
Thanks for reading!
Keep on rocking your business like a #VOBOSS
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Anne Ganguzza is a professional voice actor and award-winning director and producer who works with students to develop their voiceover and business skills - including voice over Coaching and Genre-based Demo Production. She specializes in conversational Commercial & Narration styles, including Corporate, eLearning, Technology, and On-Hold Messaging. Located in Orange County, California, Anne offers private coaching and mentoring services to students via ipDTL and Zoom.