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Four great Super Bowl ads, even if they didn't always translate into business success

Monday, January 30, 2017

LAWRENCE — Thirty seconds of commercial airtime at this year's Super Bowl will only cost you roughly $5 million.

Whether that money would be worth it for companies is debatable, says Jessica Li, a University of Kansas assistant professor of marketing in the School of Business. Li's research focuses on consumer behavior.

"The discussion of how expensive they've become has to be couched in terms of consumer viewing of media," Li said. "Sporting events are one of the few programs that people still watch live because so many people use the DVR or streaming services like Netflix for entertainment."

The likely goal of Super Bowl ads is to generate buzz and direct people to other sources of information. This is also a unique opportunity for companies to take advantage of group gatherings and an exciting atmosphere, such as by fostering discussions about ads with friends and family while watching the game, or leading people to respond to the ads on social media, she said. Because of the cost, most Super Bowl commercials ads now are limited to well-established brands, she said.

"Mostly the ads are designed to draw people's attention and draw them in," Li said. "They use an integrated communications strategy to direct people toward their website and social media sites.” 

Li has created a list of three recently successful Super Bowl ads and one that reminds companies that successful ads do not always translate into short-term profits:

  1. "PuppyMonkeyBaby," 2015, Mountain Dew Kickstart



Li: " The PuppyMonkeyBaby was kind of creepy but, perhaps for that very reason, people couldn’t get it out of their heads."

  1. "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like," 2010, Old Spice



Li: " This ad was humorous, creative and unexpected, and helped make Old Spice relevant again."


  1. "Lost Dog," 2015, Budweiser - You can find it online, but not on Budweiser's official YouTube channel. Here are some teasers about the ad:







Li: "Puppies are always received well in ads, and the story Budweiser created gave everyone the feels."


  1. "The '80s Called: They Want Their Store Back," 2014, RadioShack - You can find the full ad online, but not on RadioShack's official YouTube channel. Here is a CNN story about it.

Li: " Although the ad itself was celebrated as being one of the most inspired and entertaining of 2014, it didn’t prevent RadioShack from filing for bankruptcy just a year later."

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