Super Bowl Advertisement Analytical Essay

Amazon wins at the 2018 Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review

T-Mobile and Squarespace Fumble during the Game

EVANSTON, Ill., (Feb. 4, 2018) – Amazon was a big winner in strategic ad rankings with its "Alexa Loses Her Voice" ad in the 14th consecutive Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review. Other brands that earned top marks include Mountain Dew, Doritos, Tide, Avocados from Mexico and Wendy's. On the flip side, Squarespace and T-Mobile received low grades for less effective advertising during this year's Super Bowl.

"Amazon used a cast of celebrities that focused us on the brand, reinforced the equity in Alexa, and ultimately was fun to discuss and share with those around you," said Derek D. Rucker, Sandy & Morton Goldman Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies in Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. "However, Squarespace and T-Mobile both missed the mark with questionable positioning and unclear calls to action."

Two ongoing trends emerged throughout the big game - competitive angle in many ads and philanthropic efforts.

"As competitive as the game was, the category wars were equally competitive. For example, there was hard hitting competition in the wireless wars with some brands calling one another out," said Tim Calkins, Clinical Professor of Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, who co-leads the school's Ad Review. "Many brands tried to appeal to viewers through philanthropic causes, including Toyota, Ram and Hyundai."

The Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review uses a strategic academic framework known as ADPLAN to evaluate the effectiveness of Super Bowl spots. The acronym instructs viewers to grade ads based on Attention, Distinction, Positioning, Linkage, Amplification and Net equity.



Mountain Dew


Avocados from Mexico





Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans




Australia Tourism




Bud Light



eTrade Artois




Turkish Airlines





Michelob Ultra






KIA Stinger







Heroes Arena


“I thought it was great for Coke to air an old ad, because today it feels even more relevant than it did in 2014 when they first aired it,” said Lynn Power, chief executive of J. Walter Thompson New York.

Airbnb bought a last-minute spot that came together in a matter of days showing people of different backgrounds, set to music, with text that read: “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.” A hashtag at the end read #WeAccept, which went viral by halftime.

Brian Chesky, a co-founder of the company and its chief executive, wrote on Twitter that the company would seek to “provide short term housing over the next five years for 100,000 people in need.”

“If there’s anything that’s screaming out here, it’s diversity,” said Rob Schwartz, chief executive of TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, in an interview before halftime.

“People are saying, ‘Is this trolling Trump?’” he said. “I don’t think it’s trolling. It’s a big smack in the face of, ‘Dude, this is America.’”

Bieber, Timberlake and Carell appear in ads

Celebrities and Super Bowl ads go together like guacamole and chips. Shortly after halftime, some of the top searches on Google were related to Justin Bieber, who appeared in an ad for T-Mobile, and Justin Timberlake, who was in an ad for Bai, the beverage company. In the Bai ad, Christopher Walken spoke the lyrics to the ’N Sync song “Bye Bye Bye” as a fireplace roared in the background. After one verse, the camera zoomed out to reveal Mr. Timberlake next to Mr. Walken on a couch, thoughtfully observing the performance.

Steve Carell and Tina Fey were among the celebrities who appeared in an ad from Honda called “Yearbooks,” which was narrated by animated yearbook photos of the actors. It was a favorite of Ted Royer, chief creative officer of the ad agency Droga5, who said it “used a lot of celebrities, but in a very fresh way.”

“The animation was done just well enough to make it come to life nicely,” he added.

#BoycottBudweiser trends

The hashtag #BoycottBudweiser trended earlier in the evening over an ad showing the label’s co-founder immigrating to America from Germany in the 1800s, which the company said was not a political statement. The hashtag was apparently started by people who disliked the ad, but then used by others to defend Budweiser and mock boycotters.

“Waiting for a Lyft to take me to Starbucks and then liquor store to get me some Budweiser,” one user wrote on Twitter, referring to other politically motivated boycotts involving Uber and Lyft and Starbucks in recent weeks. Another wrote, “If you #BoycottBudweiser because the founder was an immigrant... Don’t forget to boycott your ancestors too.”

As for the famous Clydesdales, they were visible through a live camera on Budweiser’s Facebook page.

Sexy Mr. Clean Provokes Litany of Emotions

Mr. Clean caused a stir this year as he took a turn as something of a sex symbol. Many people online were entertained by the newly attractive reincarnation of the character, while others were perplexed and even disturbed.

“Am I ... sexually attracted to Mr. Clean?” one person wrote on Twitter. Another wrote: “What. Did. They. Do. To. Mr. Clean.” One thing was clear: the ad left people with a lot of feelings.

Fox and N.F.L. aim to avoid politics

84 Lumber, a supplier of building materials in Pennsylvania, ran its first Super Bowl ad before the halftime show. The company said it had been forced to change its plans for a commercial after Fox deemed its depiction of a Spanish-speaking mother and daughter confronting a border wall between the United States and Mexico to be “too controversial.” It aired an edited version without a wall, directing viewers to watch the whole spot on a website,

Fox and the N.F.L. maintain the right to approve any ad. Fox declined to comment, but the network’s advertising guidelines online say that, in general, it will not sell commercial time “for viewpoint or advocacy of controversial issues” and that advertisers cannot use the airtime to address such topics.

Audi ad about equal pay goes viral before the game

Audi’s ad advocating equal pay for women passed 5.9 million views on YouTube as of Sunday. It is narrated by a father asking questions about what to tell his young daughter one day as she competes in a cart race, such as: “Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets?”

As she wins the race, he remarks that maybe he will be able to “tell her something different.” The commercial ends with text including a line saying that Audi of America is “committed to equal pay for equal work.”

While many lauded the company, others criticized it for running the ad while lacking women in leadership roles. Some were dismayed that the ad was followed by a commercial for Mr. Clean, showing him as a sex symbol to women at home.

Brands shell out for airtime

The average cost of a 30-second ad in the Super Bowl rose to $5 million this year, from $4.8 million last year and $2.4 million in 2007, according to figures from Kantar Media that were not adjusted for inflation. Add in the cost of producing a spot along with promoting it online, and it rises even higher.

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