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Release: Jan. 27, 2002
UI marketing students rate Super Bowl ads
A group of marketing students at the University of Iowa paid close attention
to commercials aired during the Super Bowl, taking part in a survey of the
best and worst ads
The big winner in the survey was Anheuser Busch, although no particular
ads stood out, according to Baba Shiv, associate professor of marketing in
the Tippie College of Business. He organized the survey as a teaching tool
for his marketing and advertising classes.
"This was a lackluster year for Superbowl advertising. Maybe the Budweiser
ads and Pepsi's ad with the Osbournes stood out, but these were in no way
comparable to their ads in previous years," Shiv said.
Shiv organized a panel of 16 former and present students who watched the
game and rated the ads, saying which were the best and worst ads from an entertainment
standpoint and a business standpoint. They then sent emails to him with their
The Budweiser ad featuring a zebra viewing an instant replay machine was
among the favorites in the survey, along with two other ads featuring characters
with large posteriors.
"The 'Butt'weiser ads were liked by six respondents -- all of them
males. None of the females mentioned these ads, but they did not say these
were the worst," Shiv added.
On the bad ad front, things were much clearer - the Levi's 'Bold' ad for
jeans with buffaloes running through the street was unpopular with the students.
From the business standpoint, the ad that received very positive ratings
was the Fedex ad, featuring a Fedex delivery man, who was shipwrecked for
five years and is now delivering a package. Shiv used a formula to calculate
the effectiveness of the ad given the potential target market among Superbowl
viewers and the firm's communications objectives divided by the cost ($2.1
million per 30-second spot). Respondents felt that the number of potential
members of Fedex's target market was huge among viewers, thereby considerably
reducing the cost of the advertisement per consumer.
"It was humorous, so it was successful at grabbing the consumers' attention,
and it was very clever and creative work that conveyed quickly and clearly
the central message of reliability," Shiv said. "But Cadillac ended
up spending a whopping $8 million on a 90-second spot and a 30-second spot
for their CTS. Clearly, from the business standpoint, this just does not make
Miklos Kremser, a second-year MBA student specializing in market research,
said he thought it was a good year for Super Bowl ads. His favorite was a
Monster.com ad featuring a driverless truck and the line, "Somewhere
there's a truck that needs a truck driver and a truck driver who needs a job."
"It was spectacular and to the point: someone out there needs a job,"
Kremser's vote for one of the funniest ads went to the Pepsi Twist commercial
featuring the Osbournes. While he believed the ad might enhance awareness
for Pepsi Twist, it didn't accomplish what the Sierra Mist ads did give
the view an idea how the drink might taste.
Shiv, who has been doing the Super Bowl ad rankings since 1998, will share
the results in his classes and with the Graduate Marketing Association at
the Tippie College.