Learner Engagement Lessons We Can Learn From Super Bowl Ads

 In eLearning Brothers

When you’re an eLearning developer, you’re often not JUST an eLearning developer. You’re also a graphic designer, an instructional designer, a project manager, a writer, a teacher, and so on. And sometimes, you’re called upon to be the marketer of your course as well. Make it easier for yourself and think like a marketer while you’re building the course.

As you may be aware, there was this big sporting event over the past weekend that lots of people watched on TV and in bars and at parties.

Obviously, I am talking about the Puppy Bowl.

Okay, just kidding, I know it was the Super Bowl. But when it comes to sporting events, I’m mostly there for the snacks, any mid-game entertainment performances that may exist, and in this case—THE COMMERCIALS.

Ladies and gentlemen, these ads are EXPENSIVE. According to CNBC, the cost of a 30-second ad during Super Bowl LIII is $5.25 million. Therefore, the pressure to ensure high viewer engagement and positive reactions is enormous. If you’re spending that much money, you’re going to make it good and you’re going to use tried and true strategies to engage your audience.

So let’s take a look at some ads and what strategies brands used that you can also apply to your learning content.

1. Add a Twist


The element of surprise is where it’s at. Everyone loves a good twist. It’s why movies like Gone Girl and Inception and so many others are so popular. Typical eLearning has a very standard Next button-based, pageturner format…ask yourself how can you add a twist or change that up to generate better engagement?

Some other good ads with twists or elements of surprise:


2. Show—Don’t Tell—The Benefit


Google could have done some sort of kinetic type video where animated words bounce around the screen in cool fonts and colors to show all the most commonly translated words. They could have ended it with something like “And that’s all the things you can learn to say in another language with Google Translate.” It probably would have been fairly cool looking and communicated the main features of what Google Translate does. Instead, they used a diverse cast of characters in a myriad of situations to illustrate the benefits of Google Translate. The ad portrayed different activities and the positive emotional impact of being able to communicate with each other. Sure, this is a translation tool. But what it does is enable you to come together with other people. And that’s beautifully shown.


3. Make it Real


This is along the same lines of “show, don’t tell.” Especially for content like safety training, you really want to drive home the importance of the material. This often can include putting a face to the victims of potential safety incidents—not just the employee but their coworkers, family, and friends who are affected. This Washington Post ad showed faces of real journalists who were killed or went missing reporting the news.


4. Be Your Own Editor


You know that your subject matter expert (SME) is going to want you to put every little detail into the course. However, you also know that your learners don’t necessarily want to read a bunch of “nice to know” information when they’re trying to learn how to do their job as quickly as possible so they can get back out there and actually do their job. Push back a little. Do some editing and show your SME how you think the content could work and still cover the “need to know” details with a little trimming down. It’s much easier to keep your learners engaged when they don’t have to wade through 4 slides of background material just to get to the main idea.


5. Own It


Maybe your training content isn’t that exciting. Maybe you’re building compliance training for a very regulated industry. Own that reputation for boring content the way Pepsi embraces its challenger brand status in this commercial. You could make a short video intro featuring your company’s employees riffing on the question “Is compliance training okay? Is compliance training mandatory? It’s more than okay or mandatory! It’s vital! It’s crucial!” and so on. Find a way to add excitement to your training the way Pepsi makes the phrase “okay” sound more exciting in the voices of the various celebrities and artists making cameos in this ad.


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