Top-Rated Super Bowl Ad Has A Message For Startup Pitches

The No. 1 rated ad in Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast, per USA Today’s Ad Meter, was Barbie’s Dream House spot for Rocket Homes and Rocket Mortgage. This winning ad has a lesson for anyone hoping to make a super elevator pitch. Tell a story.

Every innovator needs to find a way to succinctly tell the story of their creation. The discipline of creating a memorable and meaningful: 60 narrative for the Super Bowl is tantamount to the challenge of getting your audience’s attention in a pitch and convincing them you’ve built something worthwhile.

First, introduce the protagonist in your story and tell us what they want. Who needs the thing that you’re building and what’s standing in their way? The protagonist in Rocket’s story is a young home buyer characterized by the most iconic, put-together character one can imagine, Barbie. She wants to find the perfect dream home – ideally one with a pool and a slide! Now we have to unveil all the challenges that stand in her way. She has to know when the right home is available and be prepared to compete when it’s time to make her bid. Emotionally, she has to deal with the fear of losing out to competitors who seem to have all sorts of advantages. Barbie’s overwhelmed by having to take on Better Offer Betty, Cash Offer Carl, and House Flipper Skipper. It’s a bidding war and the stress could keep her up all night – or at least cause her to cry (see the real Barbie tear in the ad). How can she possibly compete?

An entrepreneur pitching an idea hopes to grab the audience right away. The innovator must make their listeners believe that they’ve identified a desperate customer with a real need that they’ve discovered a way to solve. Rocket has accomplished this part of the story challenge in just 30 seconds.

Now it’s on to deliver the value proposition and solve the problem in the next 30 seconds. Rocket’s value proposition is “Get Your Dream House all in One Place.” The product is the hero in this spot and it solves the “find and finance” problem simply. First, the Rocket Home app alerts Barbie to the availability of this stunning home. This lets her find the perfect home. Then when it’s time to make a competitive bid, Rocket Mortgage has already pre-approved her financing with “Verified Approval” so she can win the competitive deal. Problem solved.

This ad won the Super Bowl, because it is a great story well told. Barbie wants dream home; Barbie fights for dream home; Barbie has the best tools to get dream home; Barbie wins dream home. We’ve gone on an emotional journey in one minute. We’ve rooted for Barbie to get her home and thanks to Rocket, she got it! Human beings have evolved to crave a good story and our brains are wired to remember those stories which tap into an emotional vein that resonates with us.

Every elevator pitch should aspire to this type of story clarity. The way the story is told is what takes it to the top of the Ad Meter charts. The production of the ad is a pitch-perfect spoof (pun intended, Anna Kendrick) of an actual Barbie commercial. It includes adorable kids acting out the roles of the doll characters with the ever charming Kendrick narrating the action and interacting with the kids. The cheesy “Barbie ad jingle,” the Barbie tear, and the Skeletor cameo are all details that help make the story stick.

So if you’ve got to make a pitch, you’d do well to remember that you can’t tell a great story, if you don’t have a great story to tell. Make sure you’ve built a narrative that includes all the essential story elements, add some creative twists and get to the payoff without meandering. Your audience will thank you and hopefully you’ll win new fans for your idea.


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