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Cook School Marketing Professors Take On The AdBowl

Even with a stellar game and Lady Gaga dropping into the halftime show, the commercials are always one of the focal points of the Super Bowl. What did our marketing professors think of this year’s campaigns?

Skittles, Yellowtail and the best in Humor

Skittles showed an effective use of humor for an established brand. The various characters catching skittles in their mouths sends a message that everybody likes skittles (social norm). Also, memorability for the brand should be high because the distinct colorful candies are featured during the entire ad, being thrown and also scattered on the bed. -Andrew Kaikati

Laughter is the universal language. And many ad agencies obviously believe that humor can get their clients noticed and maybe even move a little product in the bargain. The Super Bowl viewers could be sorted by the varying appeals: Over-the-top (Melissa McCarthy for KIA); suggestive (Yellow Tail: “Wanna pet my roo?), and clever (Avocados from Mexico). But I’ll give my top funny slot to Skittles as it combined humor and a strong portrayal of the brand’s appeal. And when it comes to candy, well, that’s always in good taste. -James Fisher 

Two things stand out in this ad: (1) yellow and (2) kangaroo. The design elements should help consumers to remember the brand and to choose YellowTail at the point of purchase. The yellow jacket, tie, sunglasses, and earphones improve memory for the brand name, YellowTail. The prominent featuring of the kangaroo links to the kangaroo image on the YellowTail bottle label. - Andrew Kaikati

Telling a Story

Good branding often involves a simple story (“I’d walk a mile for a Camel”). So look for ads that provide a compelling narrative thread that is simple and evocative (and that have an effective brand tie-in). In Super Bowl 51 we got the follow-up on Humpty Dumpty’s tragic fall (Turbo Tax), an exciting soapbox derby race won by, yes, a girl (Audi) and a “Fifty Shades of Grey” spoof with Kristin Schaal a little too willing to accept her punishment for excessive wireless usage, T-Mobile). But home town advantage tilts us toward this bit of story-telling about the origins of Anheuser-Busch: Welcome to St. Louis, son. -James Fisher

Tweaking Brand Standards

Good brands are extraordinarily valuable assets. And their power to create preference and loyalty reaches across the years. But these brands must be periodically refreshed and updated. We clearly saw these brand image adjustments being made with very well known —  even commonplace — brands on display in Super Bowl 51: Tide did a nice job, Snickers, not so much. InBev-AB trotted out its old standards, but presented them to us in a new light: the BuscHHHHH tagline and everybody’s favorite mascot, Spuds MacKenzie, for Bud Light. But, really, who knew that Mr. Clean could be a little dirty? -James Fisher

Missing the Point?

Featuring fight scenes in a restaurant, this ad is action-packed and entertaining for sure. The action, though, may distract from the wix.com brand name and message. With the chef oblivious to the commotion around him, this ad execution seems better suited for promoting noise-cancelling headphones (I honestly thought it was going to be a Bose ad!) than for promoting a website-creation tool. -Andrew Kaikati

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