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Tim Calkins with students
Marketing Professor Tim Calkins leads the discussion at the Feb. 5 Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review.  Photo © Nathan Mandell

Kellogg School marketing team calls the shots in Super Bowl ad game

Professor Tim Calkins and students critique best, worst commercial spots in annual football extravaganza

While the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrated their Super Bowl XL victory, some advertisers were celebrating a victory of their own. Dove scored the highest among students and faculty ranking ads during the Feb. 5 Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review.

"The Super Bowl continued to attract top advertisers this year," said Kellogg School Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing Tim Calkins, who spearheaded the review. "As always, some brands came through as obvious winners, because they met the mark on key factors such as branding, strength and creativity. There were also advertisers that fell short."

During Super Bowl XL, companies paid up to $2.6 million for a 30-second chance to debut innovative commercials before America's largest audience. For the second year, marketing faculty and members of the Kellogg Marketing Club convened in Evanston to watch the event, rate the advertisers on a series of predetermined criteria and produce a final ranking of the most – and least – successful efforts from this year's Super Bowl.

The Kellogg School review panel awarded a grade of "A" to six advertisers: Budweiser/Bud Light,, Diet Pepsi, Dove, MasterCard and Michelob. Dove was the highest-ranked advertiser, followed by "The Dove spot was not a typical Super Bowl commercial, but it really broke through," said Calkins, a member of the Kellogg faculty since 1998. " continued with the chimps campaign launched at last year's Super Bowl, but they strengthened delivery of the core message – has more jobs." Bud Light's "Magic Fridge" ad was the strongest individual spot on this year's Super Bowl.

Disney, FedEx, Ford, Sharpie and Sprint all earned "B" grades from the Kellogg reviewers.

The panel had significant concerns about the advertising efforts for the lowest-ranked advertisers: Emerald Nuts, Fidelity,, Motorola and Nationwide. The students felt these ads did not break through creatively, or featured unclear messaging or branding.

The 35-member panel ranked each advertiser based on these criteria: breakthrough, branding, likeability and persuasiveness.

The review offers yet another way for Kellogg to demonstrate its thought leadership, said Dean Dipak C. Jain.

"The Kellogg Marketing Department is highly esteemed and has generated pathbreaking research in its discipline," said Dean Jain. "With initiatives such as the Kellogg Advertising Review, we continue to seek innovative ways to share our knowledge by bringing students and faculty together, as partners, to co-create valuable insights that link theory and practice."

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University