Kellogg MBAs Pick The Real Winners Of The Super Bowl

Tim Calkins working with students

Tim Calkins working with students


Overall, six brands – Toyota, Doritos, Budweiser, Audi, T-Mobile, and TurboTax earned A’s from the group. The Audi commercial featuring Buzz Aldrin was another storytelling dynamo that stuck out to Rucker. “I love the notion of this guy just sitting in chair,” Rucker describes. “He’d gone to space and what does he do now” And Audi, through the art of R8, really rekindles the love and excitement. So there’s really this metaphor. It’s hyperbole, but it really tells you what the brand is. There was an aspirational association with Audi, which I thought was pretty neat.”

Beyond the storyline, Audi stood out for a different reason, Rucker adds. “If you look at all the ads, we thought, overall, the brands played it pretty safe and went for the humor approach…They were one of the few who didn’t do it like everyone else.” What’s more, in going for the inspirational, Audi was elevated above competitors like the Kia Optima, which relied on the discount rack imagery of Christopher Walken’s sock puppet.

Like Toyota’s Prius getaway, the Audi Astronaut ad fit many of the characteristics that Firestone cites for making a great ads. “Does it grab your attention? Do you remember it? And the piece that many ads struggled with last night was does it link strongly to what the brand is and what the positioning of that brand is? Not only that, but how does that link to Incentivize you to buy that product?”


The only ad to earn an F in Kellogg’s Super Bowl Ad Review was SquareSpace, which relied on comedians Key & Peele to deliver their message. Muddled, self-indulgent and outright weird, this creative run amok failed on several levels, says Rucker.

“When the ad ended, you could just look around the room and people were like, ‘I don’t get it.’ There’s confusion because people don’t know why they should use the benefit or why they should use the product. Some aren’t sure what the product is or what the product does. It’s a missed opportunity strategically. You spent $5 million: Let’s get across why we are excellent and why we should be used. That was a misfire for us.”

In between Toyota and SquareSpace, you’ll find Fitbit, a fundamentally solid “B” ad that checked all the boxes. The product was immediately recognizable and used throughout the spot in various contexts. And it touched nearly every demographic. However, it failed to pop alongside other spots with higher production values and more bombastic messaging.  “You can have basics of strategy in there,” explains Rucker. “In the Super Bowl, there are so many amazing ads that when you come up with something that would catch your eye on normal television, it might fail there.”