Class Survey Charts Local Audience's
Take on Superbowl Ads
Posted February 5, 2003
HOLLAND -- Holland-area viewers on Superbowl
Sunday liked the one about the Federal Express guy.
With football's biggest event also serving as
advertising's biggest showcase, a class at Hope College set
out to see how marketers scored with the local audience.
"We wanted to find out the effectiveness of this
media reaching out to the community and how it's perceived,"
said freshman Brian Isherwood of the Virgin Islands, one of
33 students in the college's "Introduction to Mass
Communication" class taught by Dr. David Schock.
With 30-second Superbowl spots this year running
$2.1 million each, the topic interests high-profile experts
as well. The students' work follows a similar nationwide
effort, for example, by the Intermedia Advertising Group
(IAG), which rated the January 26 game's ads according to
criteria including brand recall and likeability.
For their research project, the Hope students
called 536 randomly chosen area residents on Tuesday and
Wednesday, Jan. 28-29. They then interviewed the 296, or 55
percent, who said they had watched the game, determining
both why they watched and what they thought about the ads.
The Federal Express "Cast Away" spoof was the most
liked among the local audience, earning a 4.28 rating out of
a high of five. In the commercial, a dedicated worker
returns after having been marooned for years, like the Tom
Hanks character in the feature film. The punchline: he
delivers a package that he had kept unopened, only to learn
that it held seeds and a phone and other gear that would
have aided in survival and rescue. The spot, which ran
once, was also the third-most recalled (17.1%) of the game's
The 10 different Budweiser segments collectively
ranked second (4.23) in popularity and first in recall
(56.7%). Reebok with "Terry Tate" was third (4.12) in
likeability and fourth in recall (13.4%). Pepsi, with its
Osbourne family "Pepsi Twist" and two animal-themed Sierra
Mist commercials, was fourth in likeability (3.85) and
second in recall (31.9%).
The national findings posted by IAG differ some
conceptually, since the group considered the advertisements
individually instead of by product or company--a total of 42
segments instead of the Hope survey's 29.
Even so, the local results are in line with IAG's
survey for likeability, with the same four ranking in the
top four nationally. Nationwide, the Budweiser "zebra
referee" was first in likeability, followed by Federal
Express, Pepsi Twist and Reebok.
The differences are greater among the top four
rankings for brand recall. The Pepsi Twist commercial ranks
first nationally, according to IAG, followed by Federal
Express, Visa and Hanes. The Budweiser spots individually
ranked 9th-15th, 18th, 20th and 21st. Reebok ranked 27th
nationally in recall.
Locally, the Gatorade spot ranked lowest on
likeability (1.88), and MyFICO.com and TMP Monster tied for
lowest recall (one percent). Nationally, IAG found that
MyFICO.com was the least-liked ad, with FreeVibe.com lowest
Regardless of how individual commercials fared,
advertisers can take heart in the fact that their segments
were a local audience draw of their own accord. While 33.8
percent of those surveyed said they were interested in the
game alone, another 33.4 percent said they were drawn by the
game and advertisements together. An additional 7.2 percent
said they were interested in the advertisements only.
The student survey also chronicled each
respondent's gender and age, ranging from 18 to 71-plus.
The results were tabulated by Dr. Eileen Robertson-Rehberg,
assistant director of the college's Carl Frost Center for
Social Science Research.