Kellogg MBAs Give Top Marks to Volkswagen During Super Bowl Ad Review

Yesterday’s Super Bowl XLV had it’s share of high—and low—lights (sorry, Christina Aguilera!), but millions agreed with the assessments offered by Kellogg MBA students on the seventh annual Super Bowl Advertising Review.

Volkswagen earned top marks for its “Beetle” and “Star Wars” ads, and other top-ranked advertisers for 2011 included Chrysler and Doritos, while Lipton Brisk, HomeAway and Hyundai ranked at the bottom of the much-anticipated Review.

“This was definitely the year of the auto and it was reflected with the panel’s top two advertisers being automakers ”“ Volkswagen and Chrysler,” says Clinical Professor of Marketing Tim Calkins, who leads the event with a panel of students from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

“At Kellogg, our Review evaluates the ads based on strategic execution and the potential to build brands.”

Armed with that strategic framework in mind, Kellogg MBA students gave the top ranking to Volkswagen because it drove home its strong branding with clever creative. Volkswagen edged out fellow “A” grade advertisers Chrysler, Doritos, E-Trade, Mini Cooper and Bridgestone.

GoDaddy and Kia joined Lipton Brisk, HomeAway and Hyundai at the bottom of the Review.

Unlike other popularity-based reviews, the Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review uses a strategic academic framework known as ADPLAN.  The acronym, developed by Kellogg School faculty, instructs viewers to grade ads based on Attention, Distinction, Positioning, Linkage, Amplification and Net equity.

“The Super Bowl is the biggest live event for reaching the widest audience of consumers,” said Associate Professor of Marketing Derek D. Rucker, who also leads the Review.

“Some advertisers, including Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Bud Light integrated social media campaigns to extend their $3 million investments beyond a 30-second spot. However, while their campaigns were robust, the Super Bowl spots ranked in the middle of our results,” Rucker says.

Kellogg School dean Sally Blount dropped in on the nerve center of the Ad Review during the game and blogged that it was great fun to talk to different students about the experience.

“I found only one Packers fan among all of the students and no Steelers fans, so there wasn’t much game talk. But I did hear a lot of critiques about the purpose and impact of the different ads,” says Blount. “We all agreed that we’re much more focused on the ad content than when watching the Super Bowl with friends.”

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