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Class gives thumbs up to Tide’s Super Bowl ad

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – Students in Monmouth College professor Tom Prince’s advertising class did some Tuesday-morning quarterbacking about Super Bowl LII. But rather than evaluating the action on the field between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, the students in the 300-level course instead rated the TV commercials that aired during breaks in the game, analyzing their “framework and appeals.”

Prince compared his students’ picks for the best and worst spots with how the ads were received by Ad Age and USA Today.

Nationally, Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” ad topped several lists, including one review titled, “We Laughed, We Cried, We Cringed.” The Monmouth students didn’t name that one among their favorites, but they mentioned several other ads that finished right behind, including ones for Tide, Tourism Australia and the National Football League.

Prince said it was no accident that the NFL ran commercials during the game.

“The NFL invested heavily in its own product this year because viewership has declined,” said Prince.

Some issues plaguing the NFL include protests during the National Anthem, ongoing concerns about concussions suffered during games and the perception entering this season of the NFL as the “No Fun League.”

“Advertisers were disappointed by that development,” said Prince. “So there’s a reason the NFL invested that much money. They’ve got to promote the league and get our interest back. To me, it’s pretty fascinating.”

Also fascinating to Prince was the decision made by Dodge, which aired parts of a speech by Martin Luther King Jr., given 50 years ago to the day.

“When I saw that ad, I was really surprised,” said Prince, who said many found the commercial to be cringe-worthy. “I thought, ‘That’s not a good approach at all.’ You see the risk they took. This is the big complaint right now. Do you want an American icon to pitch you a truck?”

In addition to the Dodge ad, the students also felt that Squarespace and TurboTax ads were not effective. Other ads such as Febreze’s “My Bleep Don’t Stink” and Wendy’s drew mixed reviews.

“It was a pretty gutsy call by Wendy’s to compare McDonald’s hamburgers to the sinking of the Titanic,” said Prince. “They are going in hard right now” on their appeal of fresh vs. frozen meat.

Students also discussed the Avocados From Mexico ad, and Prince said the company’s decision to advertise during the Super Bowl is a natural.

“You’ve got all these people snacking for the Super Bowl,” he said. “It’s their target audience, all in one moment. If I can reach everybody who’s snacking in America for $5 million, I’m going to do it.”

Prince said advertising during the Super Bowl is all about risk and reward.

“It is in the perception of the consumer that the battle is won or lost,” he said. “Advertising can help or hurt your brand. It’s a dangerous business, and you have to be careful.”

But when done well, businesses can prosper.

“Let’s say the reach for the game was 50 million viewers,” said Prince. “We know the ads cost $5 million for 30 seconds. Five million dollars to reach that many people is peanuts if you do it effectively.”