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Marketing Students Analyze Super Bowl Ads

Rather than stay home Sunday night to watch Super Bowl XLVI, Kris Kroona, his wife, and their 2-year-old daughter joined around 60 University of Iowa marketing students to watch it at the Hawkeye Hall of Fame.

The students analyzed Super Bowl commercials, ranking them in categories like humor or effectiveness in getting people to buy the product.

“The ads they pull out for this event are the best in the year,” said Kroona, a first-year marketing MBA student at the University of Iowa. “It sets the tone for advertisements for the rest of the year.”

The event, organized by the Graduate Marketing Association, has been going on since 2010. After the game ended about 9 p.m., organizers rounded up attendees’ scorecards and tallied the winners. Voted best overall commercial was M&M’s “Naked Ad.” In second, it was a tie between the Honda CRV commercial with Matthew Broderick and Chevy’s “Graduation Gift.” Fourth place was E*Trade’s “Nursery,” and fifth place was Doritos’ “Slingshot Baby.”

GMA president and first-year marketing MBA student Sara Mouw said today, the group will compare its results with USA Today’s annual Super Bowl commercial evaluation.

“The Super Bowl being kind of the premium spot that a lot of companies use to start their ads, it’s kind of a chance to use what we’re learning in classes,” she said, “and evaluate ‘Are these brands doing well for themselves or are they struggling with their advertising campaigns?’”

Attendees snacked on hors d’oeuvres and hung out casually at long tables, with the game blasting loudly on a large screen at one end of the room. Following some commercials, the room erupted with laughter. After others, students shook their heads and scribbled notes onto their sheets.

First-year MBA student Jessie Modi burst out laughing after a round of commercials. She said the best one she’d seen so far in the night was an M&M commercial in which other party-goers thought the brown female M&M was naked, so the red one stripped off his shell to reveal the brown chocolate beneath.

“When you have that kind of a funny commercial, it keeps people talking about it,” she said. “It keeps a lasting memory of it.”

Modi said her and her friends were confused by the commercial that advertised a new movie, Battleship, that featured large military ships, explosions in a big city, and strange contraptions rising out of the ocean. Modi said it was a bizarre combination of things—even the musical artist Rihanna popped up—and she didn’t understand the connection to the children’s board game.

For first-year MBA student Uday Mathur, who moved to the U.S. from India, it was the first Super Bowl he’d ever watched. Like Modi, he said the M&M commercial was his favorite. In order for commercials to be good, they’ve got to be funny, he said. On the flipside, he said they’re ineffective when they’re too complicated and lose the audience.

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