Barry McNamara  |  Published February 16, 2023

Super Ad, or Super Bad?

Monmouth College business and marketing students dissect Super Bowl LVII advertising.

THE FARMER'S DOG: The pet food company's emotional appeal was named the top advertisement... THE FARMER'S DOG: The pet food company's emotional appeal was named the top advertisement from this year's Super Bowl.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Running television commercials during the Super Bowl is a highly calculated risk, and a group of Monmouth College students spent part of their Wednesday morning discussing which companies scored touchdowns and which ones fumbled “on the largest advertising stage of the year.”

Students of two Monmouth business and economics professors came together in a joint meeting of Tom Prince’s “Administration and Organization” class and Amanda Cleland’s “Principles of Marketing” class to discuss the 51 commercials that aired during Super Bowl LVII and to see how their views of the ads compared to the national ranking by USA Today Ad Meter.

“You better bring your ‘A’ game,” said Prince of the companies that chose to spend $7 million per 30 seconds to advertise during Sunday night’s NFL championship game.

TOM PRINCE: In what has become an annual tradition, the business professor led a review of the te... TOM PRINCE: In what has become an annual tradition, the business professor led a review of the television advertisements that aired during the Super Bowl. The payoff is enticing, said Prince, who told the class that 113 million people watched Super Bowl LVII.

“If you break that down, that’s a lot of eyes on your product,” he said. “It’s the most-watched television event of the year. Companies have to decide, ‘Do we want to go in, or do we want to sit this one out?’”


Who’s No. 1?

Some companies ran their price tags even higher by airing multiple ads or by airing one-minute commercials. One such company was The Farmer’s Dog, whose ad, “Forever,” featured a woman’s relationship with her dog and the slogan, “Nothing matters more than more years together.”

“For the majority of America, this was their favorite ad,” said Cleland, a dog owner who was just as moved by the emotional appeal of the ad on Wednesday as when it aired during the game. “That one gets me.”

Prince said: “It was a one-minute spot, but the company’s view was, ‘This is our big shot to really boost our exposure.’”

The Monmouth students chose a different commercial for their top spot, selecting the Pop Corners ad that played off the popular TV series Breaking Bad. The students weren’t far off on their pick, as the “Breaking Good” spot placed fifth in the national rankings.

The students were also on point with two of their other high choices – the NFL’s “Run With It” ad and Amazon’s “Saving Sawyer,” which placed second and third in the national rankings.

AMANDA CLELAND: The first-year Monmouth professor had her Principles of Marketing cla... AMANDA CLELAND: The first-year Monmouth professor had her "Principles of Marketing" class join in on the annual discussion of Super Bowl ads.Cleland surmised that college students weren’t the ideal demographic for the fourth-place ad by Dunkin’, as the company’s choice of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in its commercial perhaps resonated more with viewers like herself who remember the first time the reunited couple was an item 20 years ago.

“These people, I would submit, made a pretty good investment in the Super Bowl,” said Prince of the list of top ads.


Who missed the mark?

On the other end of the spectrum were ads that the students and professors labeled a waste of money.

Of the Avocados from Mexico ad, one student said, “I wondered what the hell was going on.”

“In past years, they’ve had pretty effective ads, but they fell flat this year,” said Prince of the company, which placed 42nd in this year’s ranking.

Also earning that distinction from the class was the ad for M&Ms, which ranked 49th.

“I think they’re the clear winner of this category,” said Prince.

“It was just lackluster. It fell flat,” agreed Cleland of the ad, which topped only Temu and U2’s promotion of its upcoming residency in Las Vegas.

“Somewhere, someone is cleaning out their desk right now,” said Prince of the decision-makers behind ads that either failed to generate buzz or, worse yet, were panned by viewers.


This year’s trends

The class also discussed trends in this year’s advertising, which once again used a variety of social media platforms to maximize exposure. Another trend included the use of celebrities, including the aforementioned Affleck and Lopez and Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, but also Will Ferrell, Miles Teller, Sara McLachlan and Jack Harlow.

Prince also addressed a strong showing by what he called “freshman advertisers” – the 14 companies that took the Super Bowl advertising plunge for the first time. Among them were The Farmer’s Dog, Pop Corners, Dunkin’ and Tubi, which aired the ad that made it seem like someone watching in the room was accidentally sitting on the TV remote.

Advertisers who chose not to enter the fray this year were Budweiser – although there was a highly-rated Bud Light spot with Teller – Ford and cryptocurrency companies.

Listen Up …

Professors Tom Prince and Amanda Cleland join students from their classes to dissect the Super Bowl LVII national TV ads on “Monmouth Conversations” podcast.

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