What Makes Effective Advertising—and Did the Super Bowl Ads Cut It?

Just like work we come across daily, we judge successful ad campaigns as we experience them. And we can learn a lot from our reactions to high-profile marketing spots like those aired during the Super Bowl broadcast.

At GS&F, we evaluate our own creative with questions that keep the brand and the audience at the center of the discussion. Check out our ABCS of assessing work—attention, branding, communication, and stickiness—alongside some brands that got the job done with their Super Bowl ads.


Does the work you’re evaluating grab your attention? No, really—are you interested in it? Does it make you want to take another look? Does it have you searching for details and layers beyond a first glance? Will it get noticed in the crowded world of advertising, where consumers come across up to 5,000 ads per day? Much of the effectiveness of advertising comes down simply to being seen. If the work doesn’t grab your attention in the office, chances are that it won’t grab anyone else’s attention when it’s out in the world.

Take Rocket Mortgage’s spot with Jason Momoa. It might’ve been weird, but it certainly caught your attention as he ripped off an “arm.” Or Mountain Dew Zero’s remake of The Shining—as a viewer, the familiarity of the scene catches your eye and keeps you guessing.


If your ad didn’t have any logos or taglines, would consumers be able to identify it as yours? The work you’re evaluating must tell the story of the relationship between your brand and the consumer. Does it take the audience into consideration, tailoring the message to fit their needs? When it comes to branding, advertising’s effectiveness means more than simply adding your name—instead, it involves how the brand ties its message together with the consumer’s needs in the climax of the ad.

For example, Amazon’s #BeforeAlexa spot built off true insights to bring one of the most innovative consumer technology products to light in a unique way. And Jeep had already positioned itself as an adventure vehicle, so their ad connected to something timely that everyone could relate to while also leveraging a beloved celebrity.


Communication is the way to connect your brand to the consumer, and that happens when you tap into consumer truths to tell the story of your brand in a meaningful way. Ask if your story is clear, simple, and easy to understand—and if it communicates those complex truths of your brand without clouding the message. And what’s the tone of the ad like? That can often reveal just as much about your brand as the story itself. Make sure you sound like you intend to, aligning with your brand’s voice.

You probably remember Hyundai’s Smaht Pahk spot for the Sonata—this ad drives home the fact that it’s not about what you say, it’s how you say it. And SodaStream managed to connect a simple consumer product to a huge cause that’s inherently part of what their product provides—all in the context of great storytelling.


Sticky ads help build a consistent brand and consumer experience over time, and that consistent experience helps advertising’s effectiveness overall. Does the work you’re evaluating add to the experience of the brand? Does it build on messaging present in other work you’ve seen? It’s more than being memorable. Instead, stickiness means that your brand shows a consistent promise that you own. Remember that ads may differ, but your brand’s promise and message stay the same.

Snickers’ ad built on a successful ad campaign that people knew because of its consistency—but maintained the brand’s message even while taking it somewhere entirely new (feeding a Snickers to the world). Microsoft’s spot featuring Katie Sowers, the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl, was made increasingly powerful by the brand establishing itself as one that consistently carries out its promise to empower human innovation through technological innovation.

Bring the ABCS to your work.

Next time you sit down with a new ad or piece of creative work in front of you, remember the ABCS of assessing work and start meaningful conversations that push the work toward being a successful ad campaign.

Ultimately, it’s about thinking Super Bowl ad level all year long—being willing to take risks, stretch your limits, and connect powerfully with the audience. With great dialogue during the assessment stage, bold, unforgettable work can happen.

And that’s the work that’ll last much longer than a 30-second spot between touchdowns.

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