The untold story of a Super Bowl creative team
Creating a Super Bowl spot can be a daunting prospect, with creatives facing obstacles that, at times, can seem insurmountable. But, says Shayne Millington, CCO at McCann New York, overcoming the 'Super Bowl Scaries' can mean entry into advertising's special club.
As the Super Bowl approaches, the floodgates of media about the art of commercials burst open. Opinions, predictions, the best - and the dreaded worst - flood our feeds.
Yet, among all the content, there's a story lived, but often not told; the story of the teams behind the scenes.
"We've got a Super Bowl brief!" [the] words echo through the halls.
"We've got a Super Bowl brief!" Those words echo through the halls of a creative department like an email announcing free food in the atrium, summoning every hopeful creative from the woodwork, each dreaming of the golden ticket to join the illustrious club of Super Bowl ad creators.
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Above: The daunting task of outshining Ridley Scott's iconic Super Bowl spot for Apple awaits any creative team working on a Super Bowl campaign.
The world suddenly feels like your oyster. This is the moment you've been waiting for. Fame, glory, bragging rights... the sky's the limit.
Or is it? In reality, the limit is a mere 30-seconds, perhaps nestled in the fourth quarter, with the daunting task of outshining the iconic 1984 Apple spot. No pressure.
You're riding high; your idea was chosen, and you're GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL. Well, technically, your client is, but that's cool too. You'll host the most epic Super Bowl party, silencing all when your moment of glory arrives.
As daydreams fade, realities set in, and the Super Bowl Scaries begin to gnaw.
But, as daydreams fade, realities set in, and the 'Super Bowl Scaries' begin to gnaw. Your well-timed jokes morph into endless iterations and revisions. Yet, you navigate each hurdle with grace, offering solutions, each better than the last.
As production ramps up, every director seems booked, and constraints multiply. The celebrity cameo only allows 15 minutes of shooting time, though you need two 12-hour days. The music you envisioned to carry the spot is too expensive. The dog who has a resume more experienced than yours refuses to leave its trailer, and the CG work you need is four months but, don’t worry, you have two weeks... and no overtime.
Above: As daydreams about Super Bowl glory fade, realities set in, and the 'Super Bowl Scaries' begin to show.
The editing process transforms your excitement into uncertainty, then back to excitement, until the spot loops so many times your eyes threaten to bleed. But yay! The happiest of days, the spot is approved! And then your phone buzzes! Apparently, someone showed their cousin twice removed and they “don’t get it.”
Hours pass. Days are long. Logos become larger, jokes are trimmed, product shots enhanced and you wonder what exactly is 'network clearance'?
The spot has shipped and all you are left with is the 10lbs you gained on M&Ms and the question, “did I check that?”.
Then, the epiphany: "It's fine, right? No one will notice." Reality swiftly hits—it's the SUPER BOWL. Everyone's watching. And with Taylor, even Gen Z will watch this year.
Breathe in, breathe out, you begin to wish for the days when you begged for eyeballs to take notice and not skip through your hard work and craftmanship. But, alas, this is what you wanted. You’ve battled the sleepless nights, the doubting, the fixing, the trying and the exhaustion.
But today is a special day, the spot has shipped and all you are left with is the 10lbs you gained on M&Ms and the question, “did I check that?”.
Above: For a creative, the main competition of the Super Bowl is an internal one, where self-confidence battles self-doubt on the biggest playing field of our business.
A few days pass and the big day has come. Inquiries about your spot airing flood your phone. In between popping Tums you tell your friends the details, all the while thoughts crashing in your brain;
I didn’t push the colour too much, right?
I wonder if the sound effects will be too loud on my TV? Or will people even hear them.
What if people hate it?
What if they love it?
What if they forget about it?
I'm here to tell you that it’s going to be all those things but, most of all, it's going to be great.
The main competition of the Super Bowl is an internal one, where self-confidence battles self-doubt on the biggest playing field of our business.
As someone who's been involved in this scenario, I know that the main competition of the Super Bowl is an internal one, where self-confidence battles self-doubt on the biggest playing field of our business.
On Super Bowl night you join a special club, weathering the toughest of tests. No matter what the charts and pundits say, hold your head high. Greatness isn’t measured by ratings or awards, it’s about trust, risk and perseverance.
And, just like the main event, it’s a massive accomplishment to get here. There is no set formula for winning. You've all braved the pressure, given it all you’ve got and seen it through to the last second. You’ve just set the bar for generations of talent to come. Thank you and congratulations.