Two major sports events are coming up – the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl. Both also happen to be fascinating exercises in marketing, because of the quality of the featured advertisements. In fact, the ads are so good that some poor non-sports-inclined souls even claim to watch the Super Bowl just for the entertaining commercials. What more can we ask for as marketing conquerors? The Olympics and the Super Bowl are marketing Valhalla.
 
This year, NBC confirmed that it has sold over $800 million in advertising for the two weeks of Olympic games, and will likely reach a billion. The Super Bowl will clock in at a non-too-shabby $245 million. Almost all of this money comes from major corporations like Coca Cola, McDonalds, and General Motors. And while your small business likely can’t afford an Olympics ad anytime soon, there are still things you can learn from big time sports event advertising.
 
For one, these ads, while admittedly brilliant, do work based on a certain formula. Let’s take as our example this pre-Olympics ad, which has been making practically everyone cry since it came out last week.
 
 
Eyes dry? Good. And it got (you’re probably used to this by now) 10 million views. Procter & Gamble knows how to do it. We can’t know their process, but we do know what regularly works in these types of advertisements.
 

1 Keep advertisements topical.

 
The commercial revolves around sports, perseverance, and triumph, cutting down to what the Olympics are all about. Tying your advertising to a larger-than-life event, a cultural group, or a universal idea will help elevate your product to a new level.
 

2. Relate to your core audience.

 
Obviously, athletes have a limited need for Procter & Gamble products, but people who run a household do. How to relate athletes with household runners? Moms, of course! The implication is that moms have been there all along for their children, and P & G has been there all along for moms.
 

3. It doesn’t have to be about the product.

 
This point might be counterintuitive for you, because you’re proud of your business and want to cut to the core of your mission – the quality of your product or service. However, the truth is that the some of the most successful advertising is based on evoking feeling, not logic. Think about what feeling you can instill in your would-be customers (it should be consistent with your brand) and how to translate it into film.
 

4. Use an unexpected twist.

 
The reason the ad works so well is that it builds on itself without the viewer noticing what it’s up to until a key moment. You probably didn’t know where the P&G ad was going until you saw the pattern halfway through. That twist, moms taking their kids from ordinary life to extraordinary achievement, is what creates the lasting impact of the ad.
 
Axe is doing something interesting for their Super Bowl advertisement as well. The same rules apply. While everyone was expecting them to do the typical “outrageous” Axe thing, they took everyone by surprise and played it sentimental. Notice that the product is never shown, and yet, the ad evokes a feeling.
 
 
Finally, for some marketing inspiration, here are the 12 best advertisements from the 2012 London Olympics. And join us in 3 weeks as we do our intense play-by-play Super Bowl ad breakdown!
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