3 Things Super Bowl Ads Teach Us About Christian Education


I will admit that I’m more of a college football fan (Roll Tide) than a pro football fan. But I always tune in to the Super Bowl, mainly to see the commercials. You can catch most of them here. Although I wouldn’t go as far as saying that this year was the best ever for the ads, there were definitely a few that stuck with me. I don’t think I laughed harder than when I saw Wonderful Pistachios’ ad. My wife cried at Budweiser’s ad this year, showing that not all memorable Super Bowl ads have to be funny.

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As we were discussing our favorite ads back at work on Monday, something started to interest me. Just like the advertisers, children’s ministers put their time, energy, and money into programs to try to get a message to stick in the minds of their audience in just a short amount of time.

What makes certain ads better than others? Why are we still talking about some ads? And what can we learn from Super Bowl ads that we can apply to Christian education?

Rita J. King wrote an interesting article for LinkedIn that really broke down the way people watch, respond, and remember advertisements. I thought it would be interesting to see how we could use a few of her principles of memory in children’s ministry.

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1. Weight and Engagement-
According to King, “abstract ideas that cannot be directly sensed carry little value. Instead, tangible weight must be given to an
idea.” For an example, she uses this GoDaddy commercial (no, it’s not the nerd and the model kissing). She says it makes people feel the urgency of making the first move.

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Anytime we can evoke emotion, the message will be more likely to stick. In your messages, allow your kids to really discover the meaning behind the message. Do activities that allow them to have an experience. Remember, we learn by doing. When you make the message come alive, your kids will be more likely to apply it to their daily lives.

2. Harmony- King explains, “Like a crew rowing in unison, the elements of an ad should operate toward a single key message.” She uses this Best Buy ad as an example of a single key message : in this case,  being knowledgeable and ready to help.

Here are two things I take from this memory principle. First, we need to focus our message. At Group, we use a one-lesson, one-point strategy. Instead of flooding kids’ minds with an overflow of info that they will soon forget, we focus on a single Bible point. The second thing I would like to point out is how amazing it is when every member of a family is hearing the same Bible point. That is one of the cool things about the new FaithWeaver NOW Sunday School. Learning the same Bible point in age-appropriate ways helps families to carry on their faith discussion throughout the week.

3. Entanglement- King warns, “A commercial may be memorable without being valuable, if what ends up being remembered is the content rather than the product or brand.” She uses the example of Toyota’s RAV4 commercial. Instead of the car, you end up remembering the star, Kaley Cuoco.

What do we want our kids to remember when they come to us? Putting on big events and  providing flashy effects is cool, but if  these things overshadow Jesus in kids’ minds, we are missing the mark. I’m not saying there’s not a place for those things; it’s actually the opposite. We should do more to grab kids’ attention. But we must remember to entangle Jesus in everything we do. Kids should walk away wowed by God’s love.

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What did you do for Super Bowl Sunday? I read that one church in South Carolina moved their Sunday night services to Saturday so their crew wouldn’t have to miss the big game. Smart move or disrespectful? What do you think? Share with us your thoughts (and favorite commercials) in the comment section below.

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About Author

David Jennings

David has served kids around the world for the majority of his life. From Texas to Romania, he has followed where God has led him. Most recently, he served for six years as a children's director in the great state of Alabama before moving to Colorado to work for Group as an associate editor.


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