This year's Super Bowl XLVIII broke the record for most-watched TV event in history with an estimated 111.5 million viewers. It also set a record for the most-streamed sports event online and generated 24.9 million tweets, again setting a record for the biggest U.S. live TV event on Twitter, as reported by the Associated Press.
So what's the scoop from MSU's Advertising + Public Relations department's 17th Super Bowl ad rating party?
"A few ads airing in Super Bowl 2014 were very good spots, but many of the commercials recorded average or below scores," said Robert Kolt, Advertising + Public Relations instructor and co-creator of the Super Bowl ad rating party.
"Professors at MSU are a tough crowd to please with high standards, and in many ways, it was a forgettable year. We witnessed fewer advertisers buying longer blocks of time and trying to tell stories in their spots rather than just selling products."
The party took place at Pizza House in East Lansing where 34 faculty members were in attendance to watch the game. The nine-point grading scale used was based on creativity, production and overall quality.
Assistant Professor Saleem Alhabash describes an ad as being "good" when it grabs the attention of the viewer while moving, exciting and interesting them.
"For an ad to be successful, it has to do two things: first, elicit an emotional response and, second, show how the message is relevant to both the audience members and the brand," he said.
Taking these things into consideration, faculty determined the top 10 ads to be:
- Budweiser "Puppy Love"
- Doritos "Cowboy Kid"
- Volkswagen "Wings"
- Microsoft "Empowering"
- Heinz "Hum"
- Kia "Matrix"
- Budweiser "A Hero's Welcome"
- Coca Cola "America The Beautiful"
- M&Ms "Delivery"
- Dannon Oikos "The Spill"
Advertising + Public Relations Professor and Chair Jef Richards loved the Budweiser "Puppy Love" and Coca Cola "America the Beautiful" advertisements.
"The former (Budweiser) is a perfect execution of tugging the heart-strings of animal lovers. The latter (Coca Cola) pulled me back to the Coke 'Hilltop' ad of the early 70s, where the group harmonized in 'I'd like to teach the world to sing...," Richards said. "It was an ad with a message that went far beyond 'buy me,' while at the same time taking Coke back to that same message from so long ago."
Alhabash took notice of some interesting changes in advertising for the Super Bowl. First, many more ads, including Budweiser "Puppy Love," were leaked before the game.
"In my opinion, this is genius, not only from a social media and engagement perspective, but from a pure cognitive standpoint," Alhabash said. "As people are watching the game, they are bombarded by multiple sources of information, be it the game itself, the other ads, and certainly the social chit-chat if they're watching the game in a group. Once the ad they've seen before airs during the game, the familiarity of the ad along with that stored affective response in memory, orient people (or make them pay more attention) to the ad and its message."
Second, ads using celebrities were not as successful, going against advertising studies that show endorsements that feature popular celebrities help a brand.
"In my opinion, brands that used a celebrity appeared that they were trying too much, or that they were capitalizing on the popularity of the celebrity to attract viewers' attention," Alhabash said. "This was the case with the 'Wonderful Pistachio' ads with Steven Colbert. While Colbert is popular, the ads were at best, 'meh!' There was not a story; there was no relevance, just the celebrity. It might grab our attention, but it does not tickle our emotions."
Richards said the worst advertisement was the Bud Light "Cool Twist" commercial.
"It would've been a fine ad in another context, but in a venue where the standards lean toward the artistic and creative, this one was dead boring. It might've gotten its message across, but it did so by the gross disappointment it offered," Richards said.
While most football fans would agree that this was not the most exciting game in Super Bowl history, Richards sees his department's annual faculty ad rating party as a "wonderful event."
"Faculty get the opportunity to view some of the most talk-worthy advertisements of the year in a forum where they can discuss their relative merits," he said. "These same ads will be discussed in many classes, and most of our students have seen them and are prepared to discuss them. So, by having this 'rating' event, we simultaneously are preparing our faculty for the discussions that will follow over the next several days."
Kolt, who co-created the Super Bowl ad rating party 17 years ago, has been in demand for interviews by major media outlets about this year's commercials and has become one of the most sought-after experts on Super Bowl ads in the country.
To check out the buzz about our faculty's ad ratings, visit MSU's Alumni Association's Knowledge Network page that aggregates all the MSU-related Super Bowl news coverage.
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