Super Bowl 2013: What Makes A Champion Super Bowl Social Video Ad?

The power to harness social momentum is nothing new – from pre-industrial word-of-mouth to modern day advertising campaigns, our desire to process and pass on socially-relevant information is the same thing that fuels contagious communication. For brands looking to get ahead of their rivals around the Super Bowl,  this power has never been more valuable.

But at a time in which we’re generating content faster than we can absorb it, there’s one medium that stands head and shoulders above the crowd – video.

Chock full of the non-verbal cues we rely on to inform our everyday decisions (including whether or not to trust someone with our custom), video holds a particularly persuasive allure as a narrative form over other less emotive media such as text and even image.

Add to this our relatively new-found ability to share video with friends and family, and you’re talking a credibility-boosting tool of potentially gargantuan proportions.

Of course not every video undergoes the ‘viral cascade’ that sees the sharing of content grow exponentially, but if you take a look at the Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials on the Unruly Viral Video Chart, you’ll start to notice a number of trends. The most successful social videos of all time tend to be those that hit certain emotional triggers: they’re often cute, sexy, or unexpectedly hilarious; of course, sometimes they are a combination of all three. But, above all else, they’re always emotionally compelling.

Successful social videos are popular because they provide us with an emotional fix that we then want to share with our peers. Although the success of many videos will depend on the cultural context of their intended audience, those videos that succeed on a global scale do so because they tap into a narrative or emotion that is universally recognizable.

If you want a non-Super Bowl example of the killer results you can get when you balance cultural context with universal touch-points look no further than the P&G commercial, ‘To their moms, they’ll always be kids’. It’s simple, it’s powerful, and it’s social – and it showcases the perfect formula for social video success.

See Nathalie Nahai, web psychologist and the best selling author of ‘Webs Of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion, discuss audience targeting, brand identity and selling with integrity in the Unruly Social Video Lab here.