What makes a great advertisement? Is it being hilarious and off-the-wall? Is it telling a powerful story that makes viewers cry? Attendees at the University Marketing Association’s Feb. 13 Super Bowl Ad Review event learned that one measurement of an ad’s greatness is its legacy—do people still rewatch it 40 years later?
The UMA brought in four marketing professionals to share analysis on some of their favorite Super Bowl ads, both old and new. Erin Albert, a junior business administration major who serves as the president of the UMA, introduced the speakers.
Jordan Fretz, associate creative director at Jackson Marketing, spoke during the “first quarter” of the event. He first played the 2013 “Farmer” ad from Ram Trucks, which featured the iconic voice of Paul Harvey. Fretz said the ad appealed to the American spirit. Next up was E-Trade’s 2000 “Monkey” spot, which joked that it wasted $2 million of the company’s money. Finally, Fretz played Tubi’s 2023 “Rabbit Hole” ad, which he said was attention-getting.
David Lovegrove, BJU’s chief marketing officer, covered the second part of the presentation. He started with the 2000 “Cat Herders” spot from Electronic Data Systems. Lovegrove praised the ad’s humor, simplicity and broad appeal. But he argued that the ad was a “misplace” because it only needed to reach a limited audience of business professionals, not the entire U.S. population. “Saving Sawyer,” Amazon’s 2023 spot, was next. Lovegrove picked it because he loves good narrative ads.
After “halftime”—a break for nachos and a short Kahoot competition—Rick Altizer, CEO of Earnnest, played his picks. His first choice was E-Trade’s 2008 spot featuring a stock-trading baby and a surprise ending. He praised the ad’s innovation, visual hook and tailoring to its target market of males aged 25-38 with a little cash to invest. Altizer followed up with E-Trade’s baby wedding 2023 ad.
David Jones, Jackson Marketing’s chief marketing officer, tackled the fourth quarter. He showed Apple’s 1984 commercial that introduced the Macintosh computer to the world while downplaying fears that the technology would lead to an Orwellian future. Jones said the ad revolutionized the Super Bowl for many people, making it more about the ads than the game.
Jones also showed one of the “He Gets Us” spots from the 2023 Super Bowl. According to the campaign website, “He Gets Us is a movement to reintroduce people to the Jesus of the Bible and his confounding love and forgiveness.”
Audience members discussed the He Gets Us campaign’s approach to “marketing” Jesus. Adele Dunn, an associate professor of marketing at BJU, noted that the campaign is working to change attitudes and perceptions around Jesus. Luke Page, a junior business administration major, put himself in the shoes of someone watching the ad who doesn’t know much about Christ. For this kind of individual, he said, “It makes me think. It makes me walk away curious.”
Participants wondered whether clear Gospel presentations would have been better than the campaign’s feel-good spots. At the conclusion of the event, Erin Albert challenged audience members to consider how they are marketing or representing Christ to the world as His followers.