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WMU professors rate Super Bowl ads

Feb. 6, 2006

KALAMAZOO--A Bud Light ad featuring a magic revolving wall and refrigerator took top honors as the best commercial of Super Bowl XL, according faculty in the Western Michigan University Advertising and Promotion Program and Department of Marketing.

While millions of football fans watched Sunday as the Pittsburgh Steelers topped the Seattle Seahawks, WMU professors paid close attention to the ads between the action on the field, rating them for their creativity, strategy, execution and production values on a 10-point scale.

Budweiser and Bud Light dominated the top 10 ads, they say. In addition to winning the top spot, ads for Budweiser came in second and fifth, while a second Bud Light ad came in eighth.

Results for the top 10 were:

1. Bud Light: Magic Revolving Wall/Fridge

2. Budweiser: Fans in the stands with placards

3. Fed Ex: Prehistoric

4. Ford Escape Hybrid: Kermit

5. Budweiser: Lamb Streaker

6. ESPN Mobile

7. Dove: Real beauty campaign

8. Bud Light: Hide the beer for co-workers

9. Ameriquest: Airplane

10. Sprint phone: Golf locker room

Ads in the top 10 hit the group's criteria for effectiveness. Panelists thought the ads were entertaining, had excellent production qualities and were consistent with the brand strategy. They also looked for uniqueness and the ability to cut through the clutter and get the brand message out.

Ads this year were directed slightly more toward women, and the WMU panel picked up on the trend. Women in the group, which included both faculty and spouses, responded very favorably to the Dove Real Beauty campaign, but the men had little clue as to what the campaign was about. Similarly, the Cadillac Escalade fashion spot scored much higher with women in the group, with women thinking the ad was hip, but the men were not impressed. The group also thought the Desperate Housewives promos were good and provided a nice network-sports tie-in.

Ads that sunk to the bottom of the barrel were from Godaddy.com, Gillette Fusion, Emerald Nuts, an Aleve ad featuring Leonard Nimoy, Burger King and the PS line of antibacterial soap. Panelists agreed that there were several movie promos that also just didn't hit the mark. They agreed the ads were just ordinary spots that anyone could see at any other time. Other ads that received a lot of pre-publicity, but were "middle-of-the-road" ads were for Diet Pepsi and Careerbuilder.com. Another was Toyota's hybrid/Spanish spot.

Sunday's critique of Super Bowl ads was organized by the WMU Advertising and Promotion Program. Founded in the mid-1960s, the program is housed in the WMU Department of Marketing in the Haworth College of Business. There are about 300 students majoring in advertising and promotion and about 25 student minors from outside the business college.

In general, the panel felt this year's crop of ads was entertaining, but the ads were less cutting-edge than previous years. Still, the huge audience guaranteed a lot of people would see them.

"At $2.5 million, at 90 million people, good, bad or indifferent, all of the advertisers were winners," says John Weitzel, a WMU faculty specialist in the WMU marketing department.

The ads also were successful in reaching the estimated 44 percent of viewers who were women, says Dr. Karen Lancendorfer, assistant professor of marketing.

"This year's ads were more representative of the wide-viewing demographic audience," Lancendorfer says. "If advertisers were trying to reach women, they hit the mark with Dove, Cadillac Escalade and the Budweiser Clydesdale colt."

But the expensive ads also can be a large waste of money, says Dr. JoAnn Roznowski, assistant professor of marketing. "It's about creative, production value and, most important, strategy," she says. "In the end, if consumers don't remember the name of the brand or the company that spent $2.5 million, or more, on the ad, then they completely wasted their time, effort and money."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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