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MSU Advertising Expert Picks His Favorite Super Bowl Ads

Matt Markgraf, WKMS

So, how did the Super Bowl ads score? On Sounds Good, Kate Lochte gets an analysis from a Murray State Executive in Residence, Robert Norsworthy, a national advertising expert formerly of Omnicom Group, working in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. Norsworthy picks some of his favorites and gives some insight into how ads are produced for the Super Bowl.

Omnicom had 15 of the 60 to 70 commercials in the Super Bowl. Some of them included the well-received ads form Mercedes, Dove and Snickers. All three of these fared well in polls, Norsworthy says, citing Billboard and Forbes. He and his colleagues in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications invited students to watch the Super Bowl at Mr. J's in Murray with the stipulation that they couldn't talk during the commercials. He says the turn-out was good with about 40 students. Among this group, the 'Lost Dog' ad by Budweiser went well and the Always ad fared well among the female students.

Norsworthy says that many of these commercials are designed to run one time during the Super Bowl, or on a very limited run. The idea of spending $4.5 million on an ad, he says, is the buzz generated from it. More and more ads are getting released early - more this year than ever before - as to increase impressions on social media, to increase that buzz factor. One ad that Norsworthy felt was not as effective was Loctite's fanny-pack dance ad. He says Loctite's entire media budget was $3.5 million in 2014 and they spend $4.5 million for this year's ad. It wasn't one of the best liked in the polls, but the real reason for spending that kind of money is the buzz generated from its airing.

Does it sell the product? Norsworthy recalls working on an account with Ford and presented in front of a group of dealers charts showing attributes and awareness. One of the dealers stood up and said, 'Norsworthy, my banker has never asked what the awareness or attribute numbers are, I want to sell cars." He says the important thing to remember in ad creation is: are you selling a product and are you gaining share?

This year's Super Bowl was the most watched ever with 49.7% of all households. For share, it had 73% of households with the TV set on. So, he says, almost 3/4 of the country watched the Super Bowl if they had their TV on. So which ads had the biggest impressions? Most people believe that the biggest gain is in the first quarter - most advertisers want the first quarter. But the truth is, he says, is that the Super Bowl builds and more people watch in the fourth quarter. He believes a lot of people tune in to watch the halftime show and stay with it or get interested in the final minutes.

Production cost can vary, too. For the Mercedes Benz ad, Omnicom hired Disney to produce the commercial, which cost $1 million in production cost alone. On the other end of the spectrum, Doritos crowd-sourced commercials from amateurs and had fans vote on the best two ads to air during the Super Bowl. Norsworthy said his overall favorite was the Mercedes Benz ad. He says the tortoise and hare contest was an effective strategy and the 30 second commercial showed about 20 seconds of car. He says he comes from a school where you have to show the product and make a proposition to the consumer.

Top 10 Super Bowl Commercials 2015

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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