Kellogg group picks which Super Bowl ads made the grade

Lauren Mogannam

The Allen Center, which was filled with idle chatter for every play of Super Bowl XLIV, instantly fell silent the second commercials started airing.

While most viewers of Sunday’s game tuned in to watch the New Orleans Saints win over the Indianapolis Colts, two Kellogg School of Management professors and their marketing students were only interested in the multi-million dollar commercials.

The sixth annual Super Bowl Advertising Review hosted by Profs. Tim Calkins and Derek Rucker attracted about 50 MBA students. Since its 2005 inception, the Kellogg event has become a popular event amongst graduate marketing students.

“The advertising review provides the opportunity to apply marketing frameworks learned in class in the most live setting possible,” said Elizabeth Liu, a second-year MBA student.

Students graded over 60 commercials this year based on ADPLAN, Kellogg’s framework criteria. All the advertisements were evaluated based on attention, distinction, positioning, linkage, amplification and net equity.

“It is hard to find an opportunity where you can blend learning and fun,” Rucker said. “This is definitely one of them.”

Using ADPLAN, the students found Google’s advertisement, “How to Impress a French Woman,” to be the most successful. The ad showed a Google screen with various searches relating a person’s life progression being typed into the search box.

Rucker, who first joined Calkins three years ago, said the effectiveness of a commercial’s message is very important because the Super Bowl is a great opportunity for advertisers to reach a mass audience.

“With spots being sold from two-and-a-half to three million dollars, it is a huge investment by a brand,” he said. “It has to entertain, convey a message and make consumers want to use the product.”

While the economy has suffered, advertisers’ interest in running commercials reflects an economic upturn, Calkins said.

“This year there is a lot of interest in the Super Bowl,” he said. “It is a hopeful sign for the economy.”

Although all advertisers invested large sums of money, there was a shift in the advertisers who bought commercial spots this year, Rucker said.

“You have seen the landscape of advertisers shift,” he said. “Coke advertised, but Pepsi bowed out this year.”

Even though there were some changes to the advertising makeup, the review was able to clearly determine the winners and losers.

“The Google spot laddered up to the emotion but maintained function,” Calkins said. “The Focus on Family tried so hard to avoid controversy that it didn’t stand out. It was so gentle that I don’t think it offended anyone.”

While the Doritos and Anheuser-Busch commercials will most likely be rated the most popular by others, they did not make the top five best commercials for the advertising review because the multiple spots were averaged together, Calkins said.

Second-year MBA student Chris Brody came to the review for a second time this year.

“It is exciting and fast-paced,” he said. “It is just fun to see the ads and talk about them with everybody. As for the ads themselves, it has been a mixed bag.”

While both Calkins and Rucker said they enjoy football, the Super Bowl is time for the commercials.

“It’s all about the ads,” Rucker said.[email protected]