Johnson students determine which Super ads made the grade

Marketing students at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business were super-excited by the Pepsi commercial featuring Steve Carell, Cardi B and Lil Jon – but not so much by the Audi/cashews spot.

Marketing students in the SC Johnson College of Business gathered Feb. 3 to watch and rate the ads during the Super Bowl, an annual exercise at the college.

Johnson students gathered on the evening of Feb. 3 to discuss and vote on what are sure to be some of the biggest ads of the year during the Marketing Association’s annual Super Bowl Ad Review. Students watch the ads, apply a series of frameworks such as RAMP (relevant, actionable, message, problem) and CAC (cognitive, affective, conative) to identify and quantify the value and strategies for each of the new spots.

Students also discussed the use of the digital extensions that align with the $5 million, 30-second TV spots, as digital is an increasingly valuable way to reach consumers.

The students’ favorites included the Pepsi spot, the Oil of Olay “Killer Skin” ad featuring horror film star Sarah Michelle Gellar, and the Bud Light nod to “Game of Thrones.” Students’ bottom three were commercials for Audi, T-Mobile (“What’s For Dinner?”) and Bumble, the women’s dating app, featuring tennis icon Serena Williams.

The students were drawn to ads that cleverly articulate their product’s benefits in a relevant, compelling and memorable way.

“A good advertisement not only communicates relevant information, but it also creates emotional associations in consumers’ minds and, thus, primes behavioral responses,” said Manoj Thomas, associate professor of marketing at Cornell SC Johnson.

–  Serena Elavia, MBA ’20

Editor's note: [Updated Feb. 19] The original article contained an erroneous reference to a lifesaving technique being used in the Audi/cashew ad. The technique shown in the ad was a chest thrust, not an abdominal thrust. The Chronicle regrets the error.

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