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Simplest Ads Most Effective, UI Students Say

By Zack Kucharski

Advertisers shelling out big bucks for advertising slots during last night's Super Bowl opted to reveal a bit more of their serious sides.

While viewers saw singer P. Diddy pulling up to an awards show in a Diet Pepsi truck, or a chimpanzee photocopying its rear for careerbuilder.com, many of the advertisers tried to strike a chord among viewers with more serious commercials, said Baba Shiv, a University of Iowa associate professor of marketing.

"In general, the ads were more conservative and tepid than in past years," Shiv said.

Shiv's assessment was based on results from a group of about 25 marketing students from the UI's Tippie School of Management's master of business administration program who spent the game completing surveys and applying formulas to gauge whether the marketing strategies were worth the money.

The group found a simple "thank you" to be most effective business strategy. An advertisement by Anheuser-Busch in which American troops returning from service receive a standing ovation from travelers and a thank you message was the most effective at advancing the company's business than 100 complaints of irregularities. It has formed an independent team of three lawyers to investigate, though principles, the group found.

An Ameriquest commercial in which a woman walks in on her significant other holding a white cat and a knife over a puddle of spilled tomato sauce was chosen as the most entertaining.

Shiv, who has been doing the Super Bowl ad rankings since 1998, has the students 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.

Products with mass appeal, such as Pepsi and Budweiser, typically see a return on their investment--a reported $2.4 million per 30-second advertising slot--while other companies actually lose by pitching to the largest television audience of the year, Shiv said.

"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.

The group determined MBNA's ad featuring Gladys Knight and Cosentino USA's ad with Mike Ditka, Jim Mc-Mahon and Dennis Rodman among the least effective--though there was no clear consensus, Shiv said.

While many of the ads have a short shelf-life on television, the surveys will become a teaching tool in coming weeks. Shiv will discuss results in his graduate advertising and promotion strategy class as well as the graduate marketing association.


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