Michigan State U. profs rate best, worst Super Bowl commercials


By Ryan Weltzer

The State News – Michigan State U.

(U-WIRE) HASLETT, Mich. — Football fans weren’t the only ones waiting all year for the Super Bowl — advertising critics also eagerly anticipated the big game.

Every year professors from Michigan State University’s Department of Advertising gather to rate the best and worst Super Bowl commercials. And this year’s party was like any other Super Bowl bash, complete with chips and dip. Like sports fans, the 20-some professors were critical of what they watched.

But they weren’t bickering about missed calls or the pass that should have been caught.

For the fourth year, in an organized setting, they scrutinized the ads.

During the commercial breaks, the professors sat quietly observing the ads — and as soon as the game started back up, the room buzzed with commentary.

A scorekeeper gathered ratings from the professors on a score sheet, with ads being rated on a scale of one to 10. One by one, critics yelled out their ratings.

Among the best were Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser spots, along with Pepsi’s ad featuring Bob Dole.

“All of the Anheuser-Busch’s were right up to their usual good work,” said Brenda Wrigley, an assistant professor of advertising. “They always have great spots, and they didn’t disappoint this year either.”

The most successful ads were those that were not only humorous, but also made a clear impression of what their product had to offer, professors agreed.

Sometimes, humorous ads often say less and communicate visually more, Wrigley said. She said oftentimes humor gets bogged down by talking, which ultimately makes for a poor commercial.

Pepsi’s ad featuring former U.S. senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole clearly came out at the top of the list for best commercials.

The ad seemingly mimics those of Viagra, a drug Dole has been a high-profile spokesman for.

“It moves Pepsi up to an older group,” said Kensinger Jones, a retired advertising professor and former executive creative director for Leo Burnett agency. “They’ve got the youth market.

“This appeals to older people and gives them a reason to consider Pepsi-Cola.”

There were a few clear losers, though.

A commercial by Accenture, a consulting firm, was described by a few critics as a “fumble.” Jones said the commercial failed to clarify its purpose.

“I don’t know who they are, I don’t know what they make,” he said shortly after the spot first aired. “To me, it’s a complete enigma as to why anybody would pay that kind of money for that message.”

Kensinger said advertisements without a clear objective were a waste of money — $2.3 million for a 30-second spot this year — and valuable advertising time for the company. And Kensinger wasn’t alone.

Accenture won poor ratings from all critics.

“They invested an awful lot of money to get this name change across and all of us, everybody has just been really disappointed,” Wrigley said.

And it wasn’t just the advertising critics who were enjoying, and scrutinizing, this year’s freshest ads.

Matt Webb, a business freshman, watched the game at the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house, 520 Linden St.

“I could really care less about the halftime show,” he said. “To tell the truth, I’m a big fan of commercials, though. People spend so much money on them, you’ve got to see how creative they get.”