Write The Perfect Super Bowl Ad: No Real Writing Required?!?

By: Kevin Browne

I want to make this point crystal clear: if you write a Super Bowl ad and it gets produced and shown on the big game down in Florida, your life will be in jeopardy.


Because the people in the ad business that live and breathe advertising have desperately wanted to accomplish that their ENTIRE careers. (That's really why they work weekends, spouses!)

Writing a Super Bowl ad is their Mount Everest.

And if you come in and actually write a Super Bowl ad that we end up seeing, and you're not in the business...well, that's just crazy.

But here's why its actually doable:


Dead wrong.

'Writing' a Super Bowl Ad is 95% about dreaming up a great idea and then 5% making sure you have one great line at the end of the idea.

That's right. The 'writing' aspect that most people fear ISN'T really writing at all. What you'll be doing is called...

..concepting. Much, much different than writing. And that's why the NFL Write a Super Bowl Ad Contest is VERY winnable by someone outside of the advertising world! (Hat's off to the NFL.)

Writing a book is writing. Writing for CNN IN Iraq is writing. Writing commercials the rest of the year is writing (arguably).

But 'writing' a Super Bowl ad is about you dreaming up a killer idea for a brand. You, and a cup of Earl Grey, or a frosty beer, and a set of pads and a Sharpie.

What you'll be 'writing' on your pad will look a lot like this:

"Joe Montana walks into a bar

in the old West. He notices

a skunk at the bar...(MORE HERE)"

Or like this...

"The guy who laces up all the

footballs for the Super Bowl

is missing and his family

thinks...(MORE HERE)"


"The grocery store is boarded up.

The bowling alley is empty...

The airport is closed...

Why...because...(MORE HERE)"

These are scenarios. They are the theater of the Super Bowl spot that you will write. There are no mechanics to them at this point. There is idea concepting.

Don't get me wrong...it's very hard. But this is about you wring a Super Bowl ad, so suffer through it.

Write down as many concepts as you can. Then short list them. Then be brutal on your ideas and narrow them down to 4 Not 3...four. Everyone does the Rule of Three, but you're trying to be a copywriter...and copywriters do things differently.

Give yourself the time to keep knocking your best ad off its perch (constantly put better and better ads in its place.)

Then, and only after you are convinced that you have written a Super Bowl ad worthy of being produced, do you need to go in and write a line of COPY that ties everything back to the brand...(or in this case for the NFL).

Yes, that's the extent of the formal writing you'll need to do. That's all of it.

But here's the kicker (pun very much intended here)...it had better be brilliant. Your single line or two of copy had better explain your commercial PERFECTLY. It had also better elevate the brand, and please the salespeople and, and, and...

Basically, and do everything a Super Bowl spot line needs to do.

That's why it's SO important when you get to the actual writing to weigh EVERY SINGLE WORD YOU USE. Don't tell the consumer 'why.' Be as assumptive as you can and write the 'because.' Because Pepsi is so great...


The rule of thumb for your copy is two and a half words equal one second of air time.

Don't use more than 5 seconds of air time on your copy.

Bet you never thought writing a Super Bowl ad involved so little actual WRITING, did you?

Kevin Browne spent twenty plus years as a Creative Director and a Senior Copywriter on Madison Avenue. During that time he wrote and produced hundreds of television commercials.

Kevin is now the founder of instructing advertising hopeefuls on EXACTLY how to master the specifics of copywriting.

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