THE SOUL BOWL
by Michael Chasin
Our highly fragmented, niche consuming society has one primary, shared entertainment experience—the Super Bowl.
Yes, sports are carefully constructed dramatic entertainment.
Doubt that? Consider the constant rule changes to amp up the excitement of the game.
What has emerged as a phenomenon of its own are the Super Bowl commercials.
Television commercials are—like every good story—told in a three-act structure:
- Set–up: Here’s Chris, sad, his kitchen counters sticky.
- Conflict: He’s tried and tried—but nothing cleans them.
- Resolution: Product XYZ cleans his counters—Chris is now happy!
Yet commercials are—at their core—about the benefits of the product.
However, many of the 2015 Super Bowl commercials were less about the wonder solution of the product—but were instead much more about soul-touching emotion.
- Connecting with a loved one—in lieu of paying.
- Being safe—to save an otherwise lost loved one.
- New insight into a misogynistic expression—that would hurt a sister.
Advertisers have realized that exposition and humor—even in a three-act structure—are no longer enough to call consumers to action (buying the product, in marketing speak).
So, as good storytellers already know, there must be emotional engagement—viewers must be affected, in their very souls, to care about the product.
It’s no longer the dazzle of the car—but the precious time with Dad in that car.
As films and TV shows are also carefully crafted entertainment—this serves as a good reminder to storytellers to be sure that your content—touches your audience’s soul.