The Kansas City Chiefs weren't the only winner champion emerging from Super Bowl LIV on Sunday night, with Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management singling out 10 commercials as clear winners. The most effective advertisement airing during the big game: Amazon's 60-second Alexa spot, which scored high for celebrity flash and product branding in the business school's annual ranking of the game ads.
The Super Bowl, the biggest single day in football, is also the biggest day of the year for many corporate brands, with dozens of companies each spending a reported $5.6 million this year for a 30-second ad during the game. While the winners get some buzz, dud ads are quickly forgotten — or held up for public ridicule.
The Amazon spot features stars Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi as they leave their home, asking Alexa to turn down the temperature. The couple then wonder what life was like before Alexa — cue a montage of people through the ages struggling to get the latest news, hear their favorite songs and do a range of other things a smart speaker might come in handy for.
The ad earned the Kellogg School's top grade of "A" because it was eye-catching but also demonstrated Alexa's advantages, Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg told CBS MoneyWatch.
"If a Super Bowl ad is going to be effective, it first has to break through the clutter, and then say something about the product," he said. "That's a huge challenge because there's so much going on in the Super Bowl. Getting someone to pay attention and then remember your ad isn't easy."
Jeep's blast from the past
Another winner was Jeep's play on the iconic 1993 movie "Groundhog Day," according to Kellogg's ranking. The ad featured original "Groundhog Day" star Bill Murray as he again gets trapped in his time loop on February 2 — this time, however, he has a Jeep Gladiator pickup, which makes passing the time more fun.
While both the Jeep and Amazon ads scored an "A" — the top grade on Kellogg's ranking from "A" to "F" — seven ads earned "D"s, the lowest grade handed out this year. Unlike previous years, no commercials were given a failing grade, Calkins said.
"There were a few that didn't score as well, but they weren't offending people and they weren't creating problems," he added.
In past years, some Super Bowl ads have offended viewers and caused outrage, such as a 1999 commercial for "Just for Feet," — it not only backfired, but also led to a lawsuit against the advertising firm that created it. The ad for the shoe retailer depicted a Humvee filled with four white men who track down a barefoot Kenyan runner, knock him out and force running shoes on his feet. Not surprisingly, the ad was decried as racist and culturally imperialistic.
Below are the Super Bowl LIV ads ranked by Kellogg School, from most to least effective.
Avocados from Mexico
Reese's Take 5
New York Life
- Little Caesars
- Turkish Airlines
- Donald J. Trump
- Hard Rock Cafe