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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 9, 2006

UI MBA Students Rate Super Bowl Ads

This year, advertisers spent up to $2.5 million on each commercial aired during the Super Bowl. But to a group of University of Iowa MBA students ranking the ads, many of the commercials fell flat compared to previous years.

The MBA students didn't see the advertisers getting a good return on their investments, but did see some entertaining ads on Sunday. About 20 marketing students in the Tippie School of Management's MBA program rated the ads as part of a survey organized by the UI Graduate Marketing Association (GMA).

The students gathered at the home of Kara Westercamp 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 listed their top three ad choices in four categories: return on investment, humor, creativity and attention-getting ability.

The big winner in all categories was an ad from FedEx, which featured a caveman getting fired for not shipping a package with FedEx despite complaining to his boss that FedEx hadn't even been invented yet. Ameriquest also scored well in the humor and creativity categories with its ad about a doctor killing a fly with a defibrillator paddle. Dove scored high in the return on investment category with its "Campaign for Real Beauty" ad.

"A lot of companies went with the humor route, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are successful at getting their message out," said GMA president Kyle Andernacht.

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.

"I think it's really interesting to see all these companies battling for mind awareness. You can see the beer companies and the soda companies at the forefront of that. It makes a big impact as far as marketing efforts go," said first-year MBA student Ben Kinseth.

Westercamp said the Super Bowl ad event is a good way for students to apply what they've learned in the classroom to a real-world situation.

"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."

The Super Bowl has typically had 'event' appeal and so advertising that is not 'business as usual' perhaps tends to do better, added Dhananjay Nayakankuppam, assistant professor of marketing at the Tippie College of Business. 

"Expectations also tend to be high since the Super Bowl has historically seen good advertising (and we culturally expect that since we have heard so much about ads during the Super Bowl as opposed to ads during the evening news). Given these high expectations, advertisers perhaps do have to work harder."

Comments by two of the students are available in audio (mp3) format.

Listen to Westercamp at

Listen to Andernacht at:

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012,;