Half of U.S. homes with televisions tuned in for Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, so it’s no wonder advertisers willingly pay millions per minute to grab those viewers’ attention.
Two marketing professors at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management think businesses can learn a lot from which ads resonate with the audience, and for the past twelve years have been leading a panel of MBA students who grade the spots on their effectiveness in real time during the Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review.
This Review uses a strategic academic framework known as ADPLAN to evaluate the effectiveness of Super Bowl spots in building the advertiser’s brand. The acronym instructs viewers to grade ads based on:
Attention: Does the ad engage the audience?
Distinction: Is the execution unique in delivery?
Positioning: Is the appropriate category represented and a strong benefit featured?
Linkage: Will the brand and benefit be remembered?
Amplification: Are viewers’ thoughts favorable?
Net equity: Is the ad consistent with the brand’s history and reputation?
“Toyota’s Prius was a clear winner in this year’s Super Bowl because it kept our attention, had strong linkage to the brand and showcased its benefits,” said Derek D. Rucker, Sandy & Morton Goldman Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies in Marketing, of the spot with the four elusive bank robbers titled “The Longest Chase.”
Other brands that earned top marks include Budweiser, T-Mobile, Doritos, Audi and TurboTax. Squarespace, LG and Acura received low grades for less effective ads.
“While many advertisers played it safe, our panel found most of the overall advertising worked well with strong branding and many companies communicated a clear point of difference,” said Tim Calkins, Clinical Professor of Marketing, who also leads the Review.
“On the other hand, Squarespace ranked at the bottom of our Ad Review for the second year in a row. This is not a surprise as our panel found it both confusing and lacking a clear point of difference,” he added.
Many advertisers included humor or upbeat themes, with only a few exceptions, including Colgate, SunTrust and Audi.
Courtney Firestone, one of the 69 Kellogg MBA students who participated in the Ad Review panel, said, “As a student, getting to participate in Kellogg’s Super Bowl Ad Review was a great experience to apply what we’ve learned in class.”
A full list of the rankings is available here.