MSU Professors Score the Super Bowl for Best Commercials

For the 22nd year, Michigan State University professors will gather together to rate commercials from the Super Bowl, scoring the best ads for creativity, production and appeal.

“The advertising will be well in excess of $5 million this year for a 30 second spot,” said Bob Kolt, advertising and public relations professor and CEO of Kolt Communications. “It doesn’t matter that the audience every year gets a little smaller, the prices still keep going up.”

Professors will rate the ads from Super Bowl LIII on several factors, spanning from creativity, production quality, message and script, to whether the strategy works in the context of the Super Bowl.

“We’ll take a look at not only the message, but whether or not the ad will be memorable,” said Kolt. “Attitude and opinion really shape behavior, so we’ll look at whether it changes their attitude or opinion about the product.”

Working in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations, the professors who judge the ads bring expertise in the field and insight into what appeals to different generations. Their live ratings track with polls from USA Today and other surveys year to year, aligning closely with public opinion.

After a Gillette commercial sparked banter about the role of advertising, Kolt said it remains to be seen if any companies will take a serious approach to commercials during the game. Movements and political messages can be a hard sell for advertisers, whose primary goal is to draw attention to new products. When a message falls short, it can also translate to lost revenue.

“Advertising is a great way for people to learn about new products and information in a social world,” said Kolt. “So, advertising is a good way to deliver the message. The question is whether or not the ad really works.”

Top contenders for Super Bowl LIII include Mexico avocados, carmakers and the advertising powerhouse Anheuser-Busch. Throw in Kia and M&Ms, and viewers will get a smorgasbord of commercial scripts. The dating app, Bumble, will also make an appearance.

“The key to a good ad is usually humor. The funny ones tend to do better,” said Kolt. He said the trick for agencies is to develop an ad that will have staying power, lingering in the mind of viewers and getting air time well beyond the big game. “Good Super Bowl ads should run long past the Super Bowl.”

The annual Ad Rating Party will be held at 5:30pm, Sunday, Feb. 3, at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center in East Lansing, Mich. A briefing on the Super Bowl commercials will take place at 6 p.m., with the kick off at 6:30 p.m.

Dubbed the #MSUperBowl, the Ad Rating Party will unfold live on Twitter. Follow the hashtag and @MSUComArtSci during the Super Bowl to get live updates with MSU professors.

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