Guess Who Really Won The Super Bowl? Coca-Cola & McDonalds


The internet can be a treacherous place these days. Between bullying teens and anarchist hackers, you have to wonder if the web only brings out the worst in us. So leave it to Coca-Cola to provide some hope in a multi-million-dollar television commercial making its debut on yesterday’s Super Bowl. In a spot that refreshes their 1970s “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” idealism, Coca-Cola touts that “The world is what you make it”…even in the digital age. Instead of argument, you have laughter. Encouragement replaces despair. In this world, “no one is like you.”

And all this joy comes from a network technician accidentally spilling Coca-Cola onto some network hardware.

Is the sentiment naïve…or highly effective? According to MBAs evaluating all the ads on the Super Bowl, an annual event sponsored by Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Coca-Cola earned an A grade from students specializing in marketing. And that mark wasn’t by accident, says Kellogg marketing professor Derek Rucker.

Coca-Cola – #MakeItHappy

“I think [the ad] had several dimensions that worked for it,” Rucker tells Poets&Quants. “It had good branding: We knew it was a Coke ad and Coke was essential to what was happening.  We knew there was a transformation from bad to good and Coke is the catalyst for that.” Rucker adds the spot also used a sensitive and socially relevant issue – cyber bullying – and took it in a positive direction with consumers. Even more, it embodied Coca-Cola’s larger message. “Happiness is Coke’s brand,” Rucker points out. “[The ad] was logically built on their past campaigns. You could see the strategy behind it and it made sense.”


While Americans were rooting for either the Patriots or Seahawks, 70 hand-picked first and second-year Kellogg students spent the evening huddled in a classroom, evaluating the world’s brands on the effectiveness of their messaging. But don’t think a big laugh or a tear-jerking storyline earned an easy A. Instead, the students applied a strategic framework to reach a result. The framework, known as ADPLAN, is an acronym for Attention, Distinction, Positioning, Linkage, Amplification, and Net Equity. By examining spots against these six points, students are able to assign a letter grade and rank them for effectiveness.

And it isn’t an easy task. Students grade the spots as they go, often using the game as a time to take breaks. After the game, results are tabulated and averaged grades are disclosed. From there, students discuss specific ads, scrutinizing what brands did right or wrong against the ADPLAN framework.



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