When I was a child I loved watching football games on TV.  Before I understood how the game itself actually worked, I watched for the commercials. In my mind, this was a competition for all companies to make me laugh, and for me, if a brand can make me laugh, I’m sold. Though commercials can do a great job of keeping things lighthearted and fun, as I have gotten older, commercials with a strong message I can relate to have become increasingly more important to me.

I’ve developed a preference and an interest in commercials which leave a lasting impact on an audience. It is in this lasting impact that brands can find value.

If you’re like me, excitement for football commercials grows on Super Bowl Sunday as the brands show off what they’ve been working on since the previous year’s Super Bowl. What will top the Clydesdale horses, or Snickers’ hungry Betty White? Thirty-second commercial spots start at a mere $5 million price-tag, with most ads maxing out at $5.2 million. Prices increase vastly every year, but what many of us consider to be a shocking price-tag would actually be considered a bargain to most brands. Super Bowl commercials have an opportunity to resonate much more powerfully than a commercial that airs on any average day.

When brands commit to the $5 million commercial spot, they also benefit from the priceless publicity that comes with being a “Super Bowl Commercial.” Discussions of who will be the funniest, the most interesting, the most inspiring etc. circle for weeks leading up to the event. Then the commercial gets its 30 seconds of fame. But after those expensive 30-seconds is when the commercial can really steal the spotlight. Social media will be on fire, and the next day conversations will carry over at the office water cooler.  The follow-up conversation brings the commercial back into focus, with celebrities, politicians, influencers, media, and friends and family discussing how it performed. As communications professionals, it is imperative the ads and resulting conversations influence and motivate with target audiences.

Super Bowl commercials present a window into the latest consumer beliefs, values, and ideas. While brands which do decide to opt for that $5 million spot receive a lot out of it, smaller brands that might not have the ability to afford a Super Bowl commercial are not left in the dust.

Brands that don’t put out Super Bowl commercials get a free view into what other companies are thinking their audience wants to see. Then these brands get to see how the audience reacts. This can be a very strategic advantage if left to the right communications professionals. You can see what the audience was responsive to and what was easily forgotten, and make choices for your own brand going forward.

Even more so, Super Bowl ads are unique in that they may spark an idea that we never would have thought of otherwise. A brand may see the strategy of another brand and decide to put their own personal twist on it. For example, a commercial showing the beginning half of a story aired last year. To see the end of the story, viewers had to go to the company’s website and watch the remaining video. What a fabulous idea to ensure the ad drives people directly to the brand’s website! And the inspiration from this idea may support other brands attempts at drawing an audience to their website.

With brands competing for consumers, and consumer loyalty getting more and more intense every day, advertising is treading into new territory. Interactivity, customization, and creativity are more crucial than ever, but it’s the spark often ignited with traditional Super Bowl TV ads that show us which brands can keep up.

P.S. Go Eagles!