Marketing's John Neal on Winners and Losers of Super Bowl XLIX


Marketing's John Neal on Winners and Losers of Super Bowl XLIX

With a media cost of $4.5 million dollars, plus the cost to produce a commercial and pay the talent, 30-second Super Bowl commercials cost well over $5 million dollars. John E. Neal, a member of the Marketing Department faculty of the Dolan School of Business, examined which companies got their money's worth and which companies really wasted it. In addition to working for Young & Rubicam, Neal was the Executive Vice President, General Manager of the Campbell Mithun Esty Advertising Agency when the firm was the 12th largest in the world. He’s been a faculty member for more than a decade.

“To start, we can call this year's Super Bowl the ‘Love Bowl,’ said Neal, who has taught courses in public relations, consumer behavior and marketing. “ Never before in the history of the Super Bowl have so many advertisers turned from humor and sex to warmth, love and emotion to promote their brands. From McDonald’s, Dove, Coke, Toyota, Nationwide, Microsoft, Doritos and others came a father's love, animal love, kids' love, and the love of getting something for free.”

Here in Neal’s words are the ten best commercials from the Super Bowl in terms of “getting your money's worth:”

  1. – The website is the hero, and the celebrities don't overpower the brand. I didn't know about Wix – now I do.
  2. Kia – Linking a lower-priced brand with the upscale Pierce Brosnan image will help Kia compete with higher end car brands.
  3. Dove – The commercial about “Daddy” helps launch the men's line of products without damaging Dove's image among its female users.
  4. Victoria's Secret – Simple, visual statement about sex appeal – they own it in America, and Valentine's Day is coming up.
  5. TurboTax – Making a commercial about Coke or Pepsi is easy – selling  tax preparation? Not so much. A very watchable commercial.
  6. Mountain Dew – A perfect commercial for their young male target audience.
  7. Chevy Colorado - “Girls like guys who drive trucks” always works. Not unlike the old baseball commercial “Chicks dig the long ball.”
  8. Esurance – Finally, a great use of a celebrity (Lindsay Lohan).
  9. Avocados From Mexico – Branding avocados in a funny commercial – good idea!

10. Budweiser “lost puppy” - okay, it's easy, but Bud continues to showcase a simple premise – America's values, America's Beer”.

And now the ten least effective:

  1. GoDaddy – After all the hype, a really boring commercial.
  2. Bud Light Pacman – This stunt has already run its course.
  3. McDonald's – What about all the people who won't get food for free?
  4. Lexus – Once again, a car commercial that could be for any luxury auto maker – no differentiation.
  5. Snickers – Does anyone remember the Brady Bunch who is part of Snickers' target audience of teens?
  6. Weathertech – Why don't they pick a good show for their commercials? Lots of wasted money for those who aren't in the market for these products.
  7. BMW – Katie Couric/Bryant Gumble – show a 1994 clip and advertise a new electric car – the actors overwhelm the new product.
  8. Squarespace – What the heck was that ad about?
  9. Nationwide – I remember Matt Damon – that's all.

10. Carnival – the commercial could have been for any cruise line – too much “cruise,” not enough “Carnival.”

In addition to total viewers, Neal also noted another Super Bowl record. “We got to see meerkats, puppies, wolves, possums, polar bears, zebras, foxes, a sloth, turtles, rabbits sheep, donkeys, elephants, kangaroos, camels, horses, cats and, believe it or not, a dodo bird. That must be some kind of a record!”

To view the commercials, visit

Image: Polar Bear and friends were featured in the 'Avocados from Mexico' commercial, "First Draft Ever," one of Neal's favorites.

Last modified: 02-04-15 11:16 AM


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