SB50 Report Card: Winners & losers

George Cook - Guest Column

This is a follow-up to George Cook’s pre-Super Bowl column.

The winner of the Super Bowl game has been decided (Broncos over the Carolina Panthers 24-10 for somewhat of an upset). And Peyton Manning, the winningest NFL quarterback ever (with 200 wins ), may now be retiring first-class.

And certainly the Pepsi halftime show with Beyonce, Cold Play/Chris Martin and Bruno Mars were a big hit with the audience. And clearly we have to give Lady Gaga high marks for her spectacular presentation of the national anthem.

But the winners of the Super Bowl commercials may not be quite so clear! Without a doubt, Super Bowl 50, dubbed by some as the “Golden Super Bowl”, had a little bit of everything (including a great game) when it comes to TV commercials – humor, creativity, celebrities, entertainment, building product awareness with regard to specific products and services, etc.

But winners and losers? It depends on what success measurement you might use to determine the winners and losers. For sure, every viewer of the Super Bowl advertisements makes up their own mind, but USA’s Ad Meter has established itself over the years as the key metric in terms of viewer’s opinion of the commercials.

This year, based on USA’s Ad Meter rating (based on live polling of viewers during the game, the top 5 are: First Date/ Hyundai; Weiner Stampede/Heinz; Ultrasound/Doritos; Dorito Dogs (invading the store)/also Doritos; and Ryanville/ Hyundai.

Personally I would agree with the top 5 ratings. But I would also like to personally give an honorable mention to the following which I thought were respectable commercials: Moving on Up/Apartments.Com; Honda/The New (Ridgeline ) Truck to Love (and the singing sheep ); Toyota/Prius/The Longest ( Police) Chase; and the two Jeep ads were decent, specifically the Portraits/Famous Faces — “We don’t make Jeep, You do” commercial.

But I would have to say there were several commercials where the $ 5 million price tag was ill spent and probably should have been reserved for a normal TV commercial: Jublia; Xifaxan; Butterfinger/Bigger Than Bold; Axe/Find Your Magic; Sun Trust/ Hold Your Breat … and several others.

And of course, we always measure this year’s commercials against the classics of the past such as: Certainly many of the current and past Dorito’s ads; Master Lock/Tough Under Fire 1965; The E-Trade Babies; Coca-Cola’s Mean Joe Greene/ Hey Catch Kid – his Jersey 1980; and the past Budweiser Clydesdales commercials and we can’t forget the Budweiser Frog’s ad, with the Frogs bellowing out “Budweiser!”

The major advertisers for the Super Bowl have always been such companies as Budweiser, Coke, Pepsi, food companies such as Frito-Lay (Doritos) and the car companies, generally with multiple spots during the game. While the two Doritos commercials earned top spots in the Ad Meter rankings, the soft drink and alcoholic beverage ads along with some of the automobile companies fell far short of excellence! Generally you can count on Coke and Pepsi for some stellar commercials, but not this year. There were six car company ads in the top 10 with Hyundai scoring #1, #5 and #6. Big wins for Hyundai! Honda/A New Truck to Love; Audi/The Commander; and Toyota Prius/ The Longest Chase also finished strong.

Bottom-line success should probably be measured in terms of “what you are looking for” in the Super Bowl commercials – pure entertainment, product information, creativity, brand reminders, etc. But overall I believe that in total this year’s Super Bowl commercials, considering the expensive price tag, was actually very underwhelming, with few exceptions mentioned above and certainly not of the caliber of some of the classics in past Super Bowls.

So as far as the Super Bowl Report Card goes on ads, a few passed, but several failed!

Author’s note: Some of the information contained in this column came from various recent articles on the Super Bowl.

George R. Cook, a Wilmington resident, is former Executive Professor, Marketing & Psychology, Simon Business School, University of Rochester.

George Cook

Guest Column