Well , it’s that time of year again. No, not the holidays. It’s Super Bowl ad writing time.

And all the big boys at all the fancy advertising agencies across the country are, as we speak, camping out at Starbucks and abandoning all thoughts of REM sleep , and disappointing spouses (yet again) in the unrealistic hopes of writing an ad that somehow makes it onto the Super Bowl.

And they go through this pain and suffering because every one of them knows that writing a Super Bowl ad that gets produced and is shown during the game will change their lives forever.

You can sleep in February. There are fewer days then anyway.

This year, the NFL has decided to involve you and me, the fans, to write a Super Bowl spot (call them spots if you want to sound professional). Rather than just hand the creative brief to their advertising agency and let the creatives go at it like a piece of rib eye thrown to blood-thirsty hyenas , the National Football League wants to involve ‘real’ folk this year.

Marketing ploy? Yep. Been done before? Sure. Who cares? This is beyond huge. This Super Bowl ad could get you onto ‘Entertainment Tonight.’ And everyone wants to get onto ‘Entertainment Tonight.’

Fact is, the spots on the Super Bowl receive as much (if not more) attention than the game itself. USA Today will feature an entire SECTION on who had the best ads the very next Monday. People in colorless cubicles and on construction sites and at gas stations across the country will be talking about which ad was the best. People who’ve never met will sit in hotel lobbies and ask each other things like “you think they pushed it far enough in that Fed Ex spot last night?”

That’s how big a deal Super Bowl ads are.

The commercial that is chosen will be remembered LONG after it airs. It will become a part of our culture. Think about that…you now have the chance to create something that WILL become part of our culture for years to come. Exaggeration? Hardly, Apple’s 1984 spot (with its beautifully woven Russian undertones) featured a woman throwing the sledgehammer through Big Brother defined a critical moment in the live of our country.

And instead of dedicating your life to writing a novel or spending a lifetime developing artwork, your Super Bowl ad can do it in just 30 seconds!

Okay. So if you are going to write the NFL Super Bowl Ad that gets produced , that gets you onto the commercial shoot and then gets your flown down to South Florida for the Super Bowl itself… here’s some things you must do.

1) Think Like A Screenwriter

We’ve all been to the movies. We’ve all know that ‘movie feeling.’ It’s epic. It feels like it belongs to be seen on an IMAX screen. It could be a dramatic re-entry from a lunar mission or the tension between two lovers in Paris, or it could be a child walking down a hallway…the point is that it doesn’t have to be big…it has to feel big.

Get inspired. Go watch a Tim Burton movie. Or Apollo 13. Or The Color Purple. Rent Rosebud. Whatever it takes to put your mind in the right place.

2) Don’t Feel The Need to Explain Anything In The Ad

Super Bowl commercials don’t talk about product features. We’re never told a laundry list of the reasons why Bud Light is the best beer in a Super Bowl spot or why Pepsi is the only soda you should ‘rely’ on. And that’s great news, because it means you can focus on your ‘theater’ (the action of your commercial.)

Don’t waste your time writing announcer copy explaining the benefits of the NFL. People know the benefits of the NFL. You’ll be wasting valuable time. So keep your copy to a minimum and focus on ‘writing’ a spot that people will remember.

3) Choose To Be Relevant Visually OR Verbally

Two very different lines of thinking here: do you show football related action or don’t you? This is very important. Do you show some action that has nothing at all to do with football and then tie it back to the NFL with some very clever line at the end or do you focus on an aspect of football throughout your theater and then still wrap up the spot with a very clever line at the end. (Hopefully you saw the need to wrap up your spot cleverly TWICE.)

What’s the difference between visual and verbal relevance?

If you write a spot about a monkey and several mentally challenged men in a garage playing with spoons and singing off key about absolutely nothing and then at the end you write a line about not wasting money (real super bowl spot), that’s verbal relevance. It’s incredibly memorable. Along with a ton of people , I remember that it was for E*Trade. And because E*Trade took such a risk…I like them better as a brand for it.

So if you go this route, go crazy. But you’d better have a great line at the end like they did. Which was about wasting money, which they just did by showing crazy people and a money in a garage and which you won’t do if you come to E*Trade.

Brilliant thinking.

However, if you write a spot about the guy who laces up the footballs and cleans up the towels and then (something cool happens here) then you are being visually relevant. Anything about football , from the guy who cuts the grass at the field to where they test the cleats to where helmets are used as cocktail glasses…is visually relevant.

Visual relevance is MUCH easier to sell. But MUCH LESS memorable.

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