MSU advertising faculty rate the Super Bowl ads


Some people watch the Super Bowl for the ads as much as for the football.

They include members of the Michigan State University faculty in Advertising, Public Relations and Retailing. Last night, they gathered to watch the game together, and while they were at it, they rated the ads. MSU's advertising faculty have rated the Super Bowl ads for 14 years.

WKAR's Scott Pohl spoke this morning with instructor Robert Kolt about the ads in this year's Super Bowl broadcast.


SCOTT POHL: "The car companies are back. There weren't a lot of car ads in last year's Super Bowl."

ROBERT KOLT: "That's right. The car companies raced to the Super Bowl this year, and surprisingly, I think the expectations were low, but they performed very well. Seven of the top ten ads that the faculty experts in advertising rated the car company ads in the top, seven of the top ten spots. It's just amazing. They did extremely well."

POHL: "In fact, your top two ads were both Volkswagen ads."

KOLT: "Yeah, do you believe that? Both Volkswagen ads, and the first ad, for the Passat, really was a feel-good ad. That was the ad with the kid dressed up as Darth Vader."

POHL: "Star Wars music."

KOLT: "Yeah, Star Wars music, his father actually played a little trick and had the lights of the car blink. It didn't show any of the automobile! It really didn't focus on the car. It told a story, and it told a story of families, and really tapped some emotion. And I'll tell you, we have experts in the department of advertising, public relations and retailing, from all over the world. Some of the best people in their field, and we are tough critics. And to be able to emotionally crumble at a Darth Vader kid and a Volkswagon ad was really something."

POHL: "And the other Volkswagen ad was animated with insects, including, of course, a beetle, and the old rock song Black Betty playing in the background while he raced around. It was pretty clever."

KOLT: "Yeah, and that was a close number two, and we sort of surprised ourselves when we saw the ratings. Audi came in third, and Hundai and the Chrysler Detroit ad with Eminem scored very well, and I think, we talked a little bit about, internally, about whether or not our own Detroit bias had anything to do with rating that ad higher. But, you know, the rest of the world saw that, and some of the faculty members at MSU are international, and they saw the ad in the same real time, and just thought wow, that was a really strong, raw, powerful message."

POHL: "You know, I was following Facebook and Twitter, and I'll admit that most of my Facebook friends and the people I follow in Twitter have a Michigan focus. That is the only ad that people were gravitating to. I must have seen at least ten people posting links to the Eminem Chrysler ad afterwards. And for people who didn't see it, you hear his song Lose Yourself in the background, and at the end of it, he looks straight into the camera and says this is Detroit, this is what we do, and the tag line is imported from Detroit. I think people in Michigan really latched onto that message."

KOLT: "Yeah, and a lot of really great shots of Detroit that you see."

POHL: "The Chamber of Commerce couldn't have done better."

KOLT: "They couldn't! But you know what else? It also had great shots of the car! And it was promoting, really, the 300, and it was terrific."

POHL: "I think it's the 200."

KOLT: "The 200! OK."

POHL: "The worst ad of the Super Bowl?"

KOLT: "Well, that, actually, was easy. There was a Castrol oil ad that featured some replay NFL film with Ben Roethlisberger throwing a big pass, and it was just bad in every possible way. Despite the fact that I'm trashing it, overall, all of the movie ads, which are quick cut, explosion, bam, bang sort of things. Those are the worst ads, and filled up the rest of our top five fumbles."

POHL: "You know, it always irks me, because you know they're just movie trailers, you're going to see them a million more times, they're not made specifically for the Super Bowl, so I give you high marks for rating them low."

KOLT: "A lot of people, they see them, and they may say well, I'll go see that film, but it doesn't mean that the ad is good! It's just not!"