Super Bowl Ads: The Pundit's View

University of Delaware professor John Antil had a lot of reasons to be disappointed Sunday night. First, he watched former U Del quarterback Rich Gannon get treated like a rag doll by the Buccaneers. Then his disappointment as a professor of advertising and marketing set in.

“Overall,” he said. “I was just really disappointed.”

That seemed to be a frequently echoed sentiment in many academic and consulting quarters after the Super Bowl. The Raiders couldn’t make it a game and the advertising showcase didn’t make it much better. Antil says most ads failed his criteria of attention, buzz and branding. Only a few brands, he said, managed to score well.

“This may surprise you,” Antil said. “But I think Cadillac did a great job. They wanted to address the lowering age of their typical buyer. They ran a 60 second spot that worked perfectly. And they wanted to change their image. You have to do something different in the Super Bowl. In fact, maybe that’s all you can do. But in being different you still must entertain and communicate the brand.”



Antil also credited some of the Anheuser-Busch ads and the Pepsi Twist spot with communicating a coherent brand message.

Marc Schiller, CEO of Electric Artists approaches marketing from a less practical point of view. As one of the pioneers of “buzz marketing” he has created street level campaigns for many packaged goods companies, record labels and movie studios. He found several ads to be way off the mark. He found two bright spots, based on his criteria of “what you talk about after the game.”

“Reebok’s Terry Tate spots worked on that level,” he said. “Whether it sells any shows remains to be seen. But when you look at some of the other ads. They’re clearly not what you talk about the next day. The Bud Clydesdale ads are beautifully shot, but you don’t talk about them later. A lot depends on how these companies follow up.”

Both Antil and Schiller both agreed that follow up was critical for the campaigns that launched at the Super Bowl. Schiller said the many action/adventure films that debuted during the game used the mass-market platform well. But reminding the consumer at showtime will be a different challenge.

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