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TV commercial quality is growing

Growing Quality of TV Commercials Aims to Capture Viewers

September 25th, 2019   ||    by Callie Wheeler

Have you noticed an increase in the quality of TV commercials? While there are standouts from every era—the Budweiser frogs, Mean Joe Greene’s “Hey Kid, Catch,” Apple’s 1984 ad—there’s a reason they were standouts. Cinematic, comedic, star-studded commercials were a rarity, reserved for special occasions like the Super Bowl. But today, with brands aware that viewers are segmented across an increasing number of channels and platforms, the quality of your average commercial is improving.

Standing Out in a Sea of Content

You’ve likely noticed that your cable subscription comes with more channels than ever. You can find 24-hour home improvement content, more reality television than anyone thought was possible, and a slew of cinematic programs scattered across your television guide.

Brands know this, and the pressure is on to keep viewers engaged during commercial breaks. Advancements in targeting make audience-specific creative more feasible than ever, and brands are learning how to be authentic in their advertising to truly connect with viewers.

Connecting Programs to Ads

Take recent creative from the relevant, comedic campaign builds upon current reality TV to relate to viewers, highlighting the disparity between their reality and the viewer’s, as Ad Age pointed out. The series of themed ads play off funny bits recognizable to any viewer of popular reality shows.

Another great example of this approach comes from this year’s Super Bowl, where an ad took a turn for the unexpected halfway through. Praised by many, and named Adweek‘s number one ad from the game, Bud Light partnered with HBO’s Game of Thrones for a crossover no one saw coming. The creative partnership created a buzz that lasted well beyond the game.

How Advertisers Are Stepping Up Their Game

A survey of this year’s most popular, and most awarded, ads reveals three things brands can do to step up the quality of TV commercials:

  1. Play to your audience: From Burger King’s “Whopper Detour” campaign to Nike’s “Dream Crazy” campaign, brands with successful ads are playing to their audiences. Sometimes the approach is risky or, especially in Burger King’s case, cheeky, but with end results like Cannes Lions awards and brand equity, they’re doing something right.
  2. Find a creative way to connect your campaign to the programs your audience is watching. With the two examples mentioned earlier,’s reality TV spots and Bud Light’s Game of Thrones crossover, advertisers are tapping into something familiar.
  3. Tell authentic stories. No ad will work if it’s not aligned with your brand’s values and perception. Ads that go viral and win awards make sense to viewers and judges because they are an extension of the brand.

While viewers’ content options may be increasing, television is still the best way to reach large audiences and build your brand. Campaigns from industry giants like Nike and Budweiser prove that the right creative can lead to brand awareness, equity, and engagement—it just takes thought and planning.

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