Super Bowl Ad Storytelling Success

Are you one of those people who looks forward to the commercials more than the game? The Super Bowl may be the only live television event that holds us all through the commercial breaks. Mainly thanks to some terrific Super Bowl ad storytelling… something every business needs in its online videos.

I’m not going to breakdown the best and worst ads like others have done. I would, however, like to focus on one company that seems to have one of the best ads year-in and year-out.


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Yes… the King of Beers in many ways is also the King of Super Bowl ads. The thing I love most about the company’s ads is that they typically tell a nice story. In many cases, it’s done with little or no dialog or voice-over.

Budweiser went with a pair of spots for this Super Bowl featuring two subjects meant to tug at our heart-strings… soldiers and puppies.

The puppy ad is the one getting the most attention. It depicts a puppy that seems to spark a friendship with one of Budwesier’s famous Clydesdale horses. It’s only a minute long, but the commercial follows a classic storyline.

  • introduction to the characters
  • present a conflict
  • resolution (happy ending)

The other ad taps Americans’ appreciation for the men and women of our armed forces. The commercial shows a surprise homecoming for one soldier returning to his Florida hometown.

What I like here has less to do with formula and more to do with one aspect of the storytelling. It’s authentic. This was a real American soldier, not some actor. It’s obviously a staged event, but we as an audience figure out early on that the soldier had no idea what was coming. Everyone was in on the surprise but him.

Maybe Time to Reinvent the wheel

Both the ads were well-executed. If I have one criticism, it’s that we’ve seen these ads before. Not only have we seen these ads, they came from the same company… only this year’s crop wasn’t as good.

Budweiser’s best ad last year featured a young Clydesdale that grows-up, leaves home and is reunited with the man who raised him. It’s pretty similar to this year’s puppy ad.

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There’s also my favorite Super Bowl ad of all time. A group of soldiers arriving home at an American airport and getting a standing ovation. I challenge you not to tear-up. Again though… same theme as this year’s soldier spot.

Clearly, Budweiser found a sweet spot and isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. I get it, but I’d love to see them tackle (pun intended) something new.

Super Bowl Ad Storytelling takeaway

Whether it’s following a storyline formula or capturing authenticity, these are both techniques businesses and organizations can use in their own videos.

Using a formula can help business leaders provide a clear focus for their videos. Authenticity is one of the great storytelling techniques available to each and every company or organization producing videos.

Watch these Super Bowl ads with new eyes and they could inspire ideas for your online video campaigns.

–Tony Gnau


Tony Gnau - T60 ProductionsTony Gnau is the Founder and Chief Storytelling Officer at T60 Productions. He’s a three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist, has led T60 Productions to winning 18 Telly Awards for its corporate videos, and is the author of the Amazon #1 Bestseller “Lights, Camera, Impact: storytelling, branding, and production tips for engaging corporate videos.”