Iowa students will pick the best of Super Bowl ads

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

This year, advertisers spent up to $2.5 million on each commercial aired during the Super Bowl. But are they getting their money's worth if they don't create a memorable ad? This is one factor a group of University of Iowa MBA students will consider as they rate Super Bowl ads from Sunday.

About 20 marketing students in the Tippie School of Management's MBA program will rate the ads as part of a survey organized by the UI Graduate Marketing Association (GMA). Each year since 1998, the MBA students have ranked the ads as an entertaining, yet educational, way to apply what they've learned about advertising effectiveness.

The students gathered at the home of Kara Westerkamp in Iowa City to watch the Super Bowl, ranking the best ads from both entertainment and business standpoints. Kyle Andernacht, GMA president, said the participants will rank their top three ad choices in several categories, such as return on investment, humor, creativity and attention-getting ability.

In the 2005 Super Bowl ranking, MBA students picked an Anheuser-Busch ad that paid tribute to U.S. troops as their favorite. This year Anheuser-Busch planned for 10 spots during the game, according to Advertising Age. Other companies, such as Pizza Hut, opted to use celebrity endorsements from Jessica Simpson and the Muppets. Burger King featured its "King" character going head to head against football players while decided to bring back its company-running monkeys trotted out in last year's Super Bowl.

Westercamp said that Americans wait all year for these innovative ads and many will run for months afterwards. Some of the most effective discussions about the commercials occur immediately after the game.

"We use recognized marketing methodology to rank ad effectiveness, humor, 'tie-ins' to product and how memorable they are," she said. "Watching the Super Bowl ads is a great way for MBA students to interact and provide free feedback to companies about their advertisements."

Alice Wang, assistant professor of marketing at the UI Tippie College of Business, said she will be discussing Super Bowl ads in her undergraduate and graduate marketing classes this week. She explained that advertisers use the Super Bowl as a place to roll out breakthrough ads that generate a lot of attention for their product.

"The most successful ads resonate with people's accepted beliefs and their goals. Good ads also attract tension, but at the same time communicate something meaningful to consumers," Wang said.

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