Clearly State the Problem You Solve

Like 110 million other people, on February 13, 2022 I sat down to watch the Snoop concert…. I mean, Super Bowl LVI. 


I was there for 3 things.

The halftime show (GOAT)

The snacks (more queso please) 

And… the commercials (because let’s see what $6.5 million for 30 seconds will get you)


It was a great game too. Go Rams, whatever. But I’m not here to talk about that. 


Photo credit: Google

I want to talk about the commercial that, for me, won the day.

I love Super Bowl commercials. They are the pinnacle of advertising achievement. They are a massive investment and brands pour everything they have into making 30 seconds count. Sometimes they’re a home run. And sometimes they’re a whiff.

As a messaging strategist, I love seeing the best marketing that brands can offer. They do everything they can to get your attention. Make you laugh. Make you cry. Make you scan a QR code. Whatever it takes, they want you to lean in and listen.

I can’t begin to tell you how many commercials I saw that were incredibly well-produced, but by the end of them, I had no idea what they were selling. That’s the point where a business might as well take that $6.5 million and set it on fire. Because they just paid all that money to entertain me, not sell me a product. 

If you want your marketing to count, by all means, get my attention. Be funny. Be clever. Be moving. But first… be clear. Tell me what problem you are going to solve for me. 

For me, there was one ad that won the clarity game at the Super Bowl - Google’s Pixel phone commercial, “Lizzo in Real Tone.”

Before I dive in, I am going to give one major caveat. I’m not promoting Google as a brand here. I simply want to draw attention to the fantastic way they executed marketing a new product. That’s it. I’m not necessarily Team Google. But I am Team Great Marketing.

Now, back to it…

Google Pixel was SUPER CLEAR about the problem their product solves.

If you are building your messaging strategy (and I sure hope you are), there are 3 core elements to the problem you solve. 

The external problem: What is the tangible problem your product solves?

The internal problem: How does that problem make your customer feel?

The philosophical problem: How should things be for your customer?

This commercial powerfully hits all 3 elements of the problem that Google Pixel solves.

Core Problem
Element #1:

External Problem: What is the tangible problem your product solves?

Google Pixel: “Historically, camera technology hasn’t accurately represented darker skin tones”

They come right out with it. They don’t spend time talking about all the features of this phone or using insider language about the technology. It’s a clear problem that people with darker skin tones have faced for a long time. 

Pro tip: When you are articulating the external problem you solve, go after the head (logic)

Google Pixel (and their fantastic spokesperson Lizzo), don’t stop there. They dig into the pain that the external problem solves… which brings us to our next element.

Core Problem
Element #2:

Internal Problem: How does that external problem make your customer feel? 

Google Pixel: People are struggling and frustrated with photos that don’t reflect who they are. 

We see photo after photo of people with darker skin tones disappearing into photos. 

“People with darker complexions have always struggled with good lighting.”

“Every single yearbook photo has been terribly shot since I was a kid.” 

This problem causes real pain. Bad photos aren’t just about bad photos. They are talking about the heartache of not being seen. There is significant loss when camera technology isn’t made to include everyone. 

Pro tip: For your customer’s internal problem, go after the heart (emotion)

And once they’ve been super clear about the emotional pain a customer is dealing with, Google Pixel takes a stand, which leads us to…

Core Problem
Element #3:

Philosophical Problem: What do your customers deserve? How should the world be for them?

Google Pixel: Everyone deserves to be seen as they truly are. 

** This is the “goosebumps” moment in your marketing

What’s just plain wrong about this problem continuing to exist? Name that for your customer. When Google Pixel names that philosophical problem at the end of the commercial, we realize this is something worth fighting for. In this product messaging strategy, they are on the side of justice. And after watching the commercial, we feel like we should be too. 

Pro tip: Go after the gut (justice)

This is a great commercial. Yes, it was emotionally stirring. But the reason it was able to move us is because this marketing team clearly stated the problem this product solves, how it makes customers feel, and why this issue is worth fighting for. 

Clear. Simple. Powerful.


And even those of us without Google-size budgets can learn a lot from this ad. Tell your customers the problem you solve for them. Clearly and loudly. And make those marketing dollars count. 

And in the meantime, if Lizzo wants to be in any more of our commercials, we are here for it.

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We help tech-focused companies implement the StoryBrand framework in simple, powerful marketing and retention.

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About Annie And Kristin of Decoded Strategies
Decoded Strategies

A Fresh Perspective

Brands with incredible products get beat by the competition every day. Confusing messaging will cost you on every critical front of your business. Decoded Strategies delivers messing strategy & marketing services to communicate about your business in the way your audience actually wants to hear it.