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Professors say Super Bowl ads lacked creativity

Feb. 3, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Sometimes there's not much to watch on the field and more to watch between plays.

But that wasn't the case this year, as ads definitely took a distant second place to the game, say faculty members in the Western Michigan University Advertising and Promotion Program and Department of Marketing, who rated ads for the third straight year.

While millions of football fans watched Sunday as the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots, 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.

What they saw was mostly disappointing.

"Normally, it's bad football and great ads," says John Weitzel, a WMU master faculty specialist in marketing and advertising. "But tonight, it was just the opposite."

Dr. JoAnn Atkin, assistant professor of marketing, summed it up this way: "Too many celebrities; too little creativity. Overall, I was disappointed. Clearly this isn't the 'standard of industry creativity' anymore."

Professors still came up with the top five ads. Those ads were:

1. Budweiser "Rocky"

2. SoBe Life Water "Thriller"

3. E-Trade "Baby"

4. Bridgestone "Scream"

5. Tide to Go "Stain"

The group also picked three honorable mentions: Fed Ex "Carrier Pigeons;" Bud Light "Wine/Cheese Party;" and Diet Pepsi "What is Love."

Professors also singled out three ads as particularly bad. They were Career Builder "Heart" and both Salesgenie ads.

In previous years, Super Bowl ads have become somewhat of a sensation, with millions of people tuning in just to watch the commercials. Many companies have unveiled their most innovative ads during the game, and the ads become the topic of conversations around the water cooler the next day.

"With 94 million viewers predicted this year, the goal is to come up with the most entertaining and memorable spot," says Dr. Karen M. Lancendorfer, WMU assistant professor of marketing and advertising. "Every advertiser wants its commercial to be the one that everyone talks about and watches over and over again on AOL, MySpace and YouTube. It's all about 'buzz.'"

Ads failed to create that excitement this year, professors agreed.

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 within the WMU Department of Marketing in the Haworth College of Business. There are about 300 students majoring in advertising and promotion, along with about 25 minors from outside the college.

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

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