What a game. Filled with plenty of “firsts”, excitement and Gaga. Yet, like many of you, without a team to cheer for and no fantasy implications, I was most excited about the commercials (Sorry if I lose my man card for saying it). And the 2017 class of Super Bowl commercials left plenty to talk about, and there were some real quality ads, but one stood out to me the most – and likely isn’t rating as high from the typical pundits: “The Walking Dead Returns” 15 second spot just as things started to get exciting in the game was hands down the winner in my book.
Why this commercial you ask? Not the Verizon or Anheuser Busch ad? The TWD spot was the best commercial.
1. With a length of 15 seconds, no pricey actors or even voice over, relative to other ads, this one must have come at a fraction of the cost.
2. Aesthetically/artistically clean, and had that inexplicable “looked cool” factor.
3. The message was succinct, and well-executed (football over, TWD back time to tune in).
4. The first 8-10 seconds are very mysterious, bringing the viewer in, wondering and anticipating what’s happening next/with a little jolting scare to drive the message home.
5. They use “Lucille” the beloved weapon of choice for the show’s antagonist/now symbol of “all that is evil” (think of the hat and glasses Walter White wore on Breaking Bad) that connects with the show’s audience (i.e. why fans need to watch – how will Rick and co. defeat this evil adversary).
6. And this is the most important. Assuming the goal of making an ad for a TV show, is to generate the greatest increase in viewership/retention of current audience over cost to produce, this ad accomplished two things:
a. Reminded the current audience to tune in/the wait it over, all while subtly having some fun with what we’re literally watching at the moment/knowing some may go through “NFL-withdrawal” after tonight.
b. Since the “prop” (the bat) is a symbol of the show “that ONLY viewers know/hate”, those that do NOT watch the show have no clue what it is/what it symbolizes. And because of the nature of the ad, it forces those unfamiliar to ask “What does that mean”/”I don’t get it”/”What’s the bat for” – forcing those familiar with the show to explain and tell the story/its meaning – mobilize fans to “spread the word” of the show.
This was pure genius, and not at all surprising given the quality of AMC programming (rivaling HBO/other “premium” channels). Tip of the hat to the marketing folk at AMC (I only assume this was the work of Don Draper himself), well done. Here’s to some more free advertising to ya (wink).