An inside look at what it’s like to work on a Super Bowl ad

Brandcenter alumnus Michael Wilson has been art director on two Super Bowl spots, including a 2014 “The Matrix”-inspired Kia ad starring Laurence Fishburne.

All it takes is 30 seconds. Thirty seconds to make or break your brand. At least, that is, when those seconds take place during one of the most-watched television broadcasts of the year — the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl, which in 2017 had more than 110 million viewers, is one broadcast event that guarantees its audience will stay in the room and pay close attention during the commercials. As many people watch the Super Bowl for the ads as for the game itself.

But as glamorous and fun as those seconds are to watch, creating them is another story. And the stakes are high, with a price tag of more than $5 million for a 30-second spot.

“Coming up with the idea typically takes a mix of two stubborn people — a writer and an art director — a good creative brief, and days of coming up with horribly bad ideas until you find one you don’t hate,” said Michael Wilson, who has been art director on two Super Bowl spots since graduating from the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter in 2011.

Wilson worked on the 2014 “The Matrix”-inspired Kia ad starring Laurence Fishburne and PayPal’s 2016 “new money” spot. He is among the dozens of Brandcenter alumni who have helped create memorable Super Bowl commercials over the years.

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