Loyola University Chicago

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Sneak peek at Super Bowl spots

When you’re paying $7 million to air a television commercial, every second better deliver. 

But faculty experts and students in the School of Communication give this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads a collective “meh.” 

Epic commercials fell flat. But spots that showed the value of a product were judged to be entertaining and emotionally involving.

Loyola PRSSA sponsored the panel, attended by 30 in the convergence studio Thursday evening. Loyola School of Communication faculty Chuck Rudnick, instructor, and Jing Yang, associate professor, led the discussion.

“There are commercials that run during the Super Bowl, and then there are Super Bowl commercials,” Rudnick said. The latter have that epic “water cooler” quality that will hush a room and get people talking for days.

Squarespace sponsored the “biggest” spot, showcasing an alien invasion in New York, and directed by Martin Scorsese. While viewers called it “cinematic” and “involving,” the spot poorly connected to the sponsor.

Another spot that went big but disappointed the panel featured Budweiser’s Clydesdale horses, making an emergency delivery during a snowstorm. While the spot had all the expected icons expected of a Bud spot – prancing horses, bucolic setting, cute dogs - it lacked an emotional payoff. 

The highest rated spot of the evening, for Oreos, was simple and effective. In it, people throughout history make important decisions by “twisting on it,” unlocking an Oreo cookie and revealing which side the cream filling sticks to. 

“The Oreo spot was a clever “twist” on one of the rituals that people associate with eating the cookies,” Rudnick said. “It goes to the heart of the brand.”

A spot for the Kia EV9 SUV impressed the panel. In it, a student ice skater performs, but there’s an empty seat next to her father. After the performance, her father drives her to her grandpa’s mountain home and uses the car to power lights and a speaker on a pond. It brings tears to the eyes of the grandpa (and viewers).

“The Kia ad shows that the car can run in cold weather, it handles the snowy roads, and it highlights the additional electric features,” Yang said. “It shows the features in the context of an emotional story – showcasing the product and also the value of the brand.”