What Super Bowl Ads Can Teach You About Marketing Yourself

Super Bowl ads feature hamsters driving fast, young Jimi Hendrix choosing Pepsi, beautiful people who appreciate Bud Light or a hot new car and some scantily clad women promoting something or other.

Besides giving you some laughs and something to talk about with coworkers, the commercials may inform and inspire you on marketing yourself and your career. Most of us are either looking for a promotion or seeking a new job – in effect we’re advertising ourselves and our skills through a resume, our LinkedIn profiles, Twitter accounts and more.

Even though some of the most memorable Super Bowl ads are “outrageously entertaining… the message is more important than the entertainment,” said Glenn Kessler, chief executive of HCD Research Inc., which conducts web-based research on marketing and communications and an annual Super Bowl ads survey. He thinks that’s equally true whether you’re selling your services or a Fortune 500 company.

Here then are five ways to draw on the Super Bowl’s best advertising message to craft your own promotions:

Pay the price: A company that wants a 30 second Super Bowl message pays up to $3 million to be on one of the most-watched events of the year.  Likewise, if you’re going to a professional convention or major networking event, prepare for a big price tag.  The admission or registration is just the start. You may need to invest in a good suit, a new leather briefcase or a good hair cut to polish your professional image ahead of the big event. Or maybe you need new shoes or a new mobile phone. Save your receipts. If you’re actively looking for jobs, some or most of the cost could qualify as a tax deduction under some circumstances.

First, BIGGEST, Best: Superlatives may help sell consumer products and services from FedEx to Chevrolet trucks. They also work well for individuals seeking to stand out from the horde of candidates. So come up with your own best of list. Are you the first person to earn a professional certification in your state? Hold the highest number of new clients landed in a quarter? Won more awards than anyone in the last 20 years? Come up with some superlatives and then use them in your elevator pitch and emails.

Tell a story: The most memorable Super Bowl ads tell a story, beginning to end. They’re like mini-movies,” said Kessler. Anheiser Busch usually does this, to create connection, emotion, meaning. Job seekers may want to learn how to use storytelling too, to show how their work and experiences have led them to the place they want to work, for example, Kessler suggested.

Be timely, relevant: Some ads seem in touch with economic realities and consumer’ mindset. Think of the Hyundai ad from 2009 that promised to take back your car if you lost your job within a year. That really resonated at a time when everyone was concerned about their jobs, said Kessler. It also focused on needs and benefits to consumers.  So make sure your messages are relevant and show your value today and into the future.

Extend your message.  Ads introduce contests, encourage consumers to join the Facebook pages and play games, Kessler said. Advertisers hope for more connections for long after the big game is done. Job seekers also could use this technique by following hiring managers on Twitter and by promoting their favorite future employers on their social networks.  A simple thank you note, preferably hand written, also gives you another connection.

Unless you’re a comedian or improv actor or going to work for Comedy Central, go easy on the humor when you promote yourself. “Some ads are just big punch lines – and they get attention,” said Kessler. Later though, people remember the funny gag lines and not the individual or product they are supposed to sell.