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UI MBA Students To Rate Best, Worst Super Bowl Ads

Millions of people will be watching the Super Bowl Feb. 6 to see if the New England Patriots or the Philadelphia Eagles will be the best team in the National Football League. But a group of University of Iowa MBA students will be looking at something else--the best and the worst commercials aired during the game.

About 25 marketing students in the Tippie School of Management's MBA program will rate the ads as part of a survey organized by Baba Shiv, an associate professor of marketing at the UI, and the UI Graduate Marketing Association.

The students will gather at the home of Melanie Burns in Iowa City to watch the Super Bowl and rate the ads, saying which rank as the best and worst ads from both entertainment and business standpoints. Students will send Shiv an evaluation form at the end of the third quarter, and he will tally the results.

"One of the things we'll be looking at is if it makes sense for a company to advertise during the Super Bowl from a business standpoint. Products like Pepsi or Budweiser that have mass appeal do well with these expensive Super Bowl commercials. But some companies waste money on an ad that appeals to a very small target audience, and could get much more return on their money if they use other ways to reach their customers," Shiv said.

Shiv, who has been doing the Super Bowl ad rankings since 1998, uses a formula to calculate the effectiveness of the ad given the potential target market among Super Bowl viewers and the firm's communications objectives divided by the cost of the 30-second spot.

"This survey is done in much the same way the average viewer sees the Super Bowl, from their living room. The ads are part of the spectacle of the game and provide memorable entertainment for the fans," Shiv said. "But with this survey, we're taking it a step further and asking students to consider if the ad reinforces the company brand at a cost that makes sense given the potential size of the target audience."

Shiv uses the survey as a teaching tool in his graduate Advertising and Promotion Strategy class. In the days following the game, Shiv will discuss results in class and also with the Graduate Marketing Association.

For background about the Super Bowl ads and the MBA students' ranking see

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