Kellogg’s Super Bowl Ad Review: Leading a Legendary Experiential Event

Kellogg Students watching the ads.

The Super Bowl of Marketing is, well, the Super Bowl. Every year, the biggest brands in the world compete to win the broadcast by making a lasting impact with the largest audience American television has to offer. At Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, a panel of marketers gather each year to judge the effectiveness of these multimillion dollar campaigns during the annual Kellogg Super Bowl Ad Review (KSBAR).

Growing up with football-obsessed brothers and two parents who are brand marketers by trade, the Super Bowl has always been a highlight of the year. It’s the only time of the year where my mom willingly watches an NFL game with us, and I learned from an early age that she was only watching the game for the ads. It became an annual tradition for my family to determine a winning commercial and compare our opinions with those of industry experts. Once I arrived at Kellogg, I made it a priority to get involved with the ad review to learn from Professor Tim Calkins and Professor Derek Rucker, who both lead the event.

Super Bowl Ad Review attendees. Kellogg Dean Francesca Cornelli also attended the event (second row, far right).


In the lead-up to the event, I was able to meet with Professor Calkins to outline what we wanted the event to look like and how we could improve upon previous iterations. We quickly bonded over a mutual interest in brand advertising and our favorite football teams, and we identified exactly how we wanted the timeline of the planning process to work. Getting the chance to share one-on-one time with someone as respected industry-wide as Professor Calkins has exceeded any expectations I had coming into the process. Not only were we able to discuss the event, but the opportunity to build a connection with both Professors Calkins and Rucker has led to incredible mentorship opportunities for me as well.

Throughout the entire planning process, the entire Kellogg team has been there to support not only myself, but the entire KSBAR team. Balancing the planning of the ad review with coursework was a daunting task as I took on the role.  In typical Kellogg fashion, however, multiple people stepped in to help ease the load. As a VP within the Kellogg Marketing Club, I received support from members of the entire club to ensure the success of the event. Each of our Co-Presidents, Kaitlin Loomis and Freddy Adenuga, were excellent resources for knowledge of the 2022 KSBAR and how we could improve the event. Additionally, members of my own planning team, Hayley Purcell and Jimena Gonzalez, were always available to support both the faculty and me for whatever we needed. Kellogg prides itself on being collaborative and encouraging student leadership, and these people reinforce those values completely.

As a school that empowers its students to lead events, Kellogg has trusted me with an unbelievable opportunity to organize one of their most iconic events.  While most schools might want faculty and staff to take the lead on their signature events, the entire team here was in alignment on providing me with the opportunity to take the lead and grow my leadership capabilities. After being a point of support during the planning of the Annual Kellogg Marketing Competition this past Fall, I understood the impact Kellogg’s signature events can have on my peers and the importance they carry with our entire network.  Leading the event has given me a tremendous amount of confidence I can carry into my career after Kellogg, and is an experience I don’t feel I could’ve had at many other MBA programs.

ADPLAN Framework


Since 2005, Kellogg students have come together during the Super Bowl to rate every single ad on an A-F scale according to the strategic academic framework known as ADPLAN. The acronym, developed by Kellogg professors, helps students rate each ad on its Attention, Distinction, Positioning, Linkage, Amplification, and Net Equity. The students’ ratings are then compiled and analyzed to produce each year’s final rankings. Unlike many other Super Bowl ad rankings, ours aren’t based on popularity. In fact, the more popular a brand is, the higher expectations we might have for it under the ADPLAN framework. Our ratings are based on the quality of the ad in relation to the brand and product itself, rather than relying on how well-known the brand already is. During the game, Kellogg students individually rated the ads and then discussed their rankings with their peers in order to gain wider perspectives on these expensive spots. Events like these provide a unique opportunity for Kellogg students to interact with like-minded individuals and grow their personal network.

The final results can be found on the Kellogg Super Bowl Ad Review site. Here is my list of winners and losers across the ADPLAN framework.

Attention: Winner – Uber One
Uber took their membership service and made it the centerpiece of their Super Bowl campaign.  Incorporating hits, not jingles, from well-known artists P Diddy, Montell Jordan, and Donna Lewis, Uber One’s entry into the big game had everyone drawn in, dancing and singing about saving money with their loyalty program.

Zach (Center) with Professors Tim Calkins and Derek Rucker

Distinction: Loser – Ram
Ram used their ad to make some tongue-in-cheek jabs at ED commercials but lost its messaging and branding along the way. Our entire panel agreed they had quickly forgotten the brand who ran the ad, let alone that it was introducing a new line of EVs under the company’s name.

Positioning: Winner – Squarespace
Squarespace told everyone exactly what their product does!  As someone who was familiar with the brand name but not the functional benefit, this was a refreshing spot that articulated the key benefit and used Adam Driver to tell it in a way that made everyone smile.

Linkage: Loser: Remy Martin
The Remy Martin first quarter spot with Serena Williams fell flat and was the lowest-rated by our panel.  The dramatic tone had no link to Remy’s brand and was weakened further by Serena’s appearance in the much more enjoyable Michelob Ultra ad just 15 minutes after.

Amplification: Winner: Google Pixel
The big winner of this year’s KSBAR, Google absolutely nailed their ad for the Pixel.  =Utilizing recognizable celebrities to communicate a functional benefit of their device that competitors don’t possess, Google did a great job of both entertaining and educating the audience.

Net Equity: Winner: Disney 100
One of the surprises of 2023, Disney’s nostalgia filled entry in this year’s Super Bowl made everyone smile. Seemingly done as fan service, this ad reminded the audience why they love Disney’s characters and stories without pressuring them into a call for action.

Graphic showing some of this year’s advertising ‘winners’ and ‘losers.’

Bio: Zach Cobb is a 1Y student at Kellogg majoring in Marketing. Prior to Kellogg, he held roles in Sales and Management with PepsiCo and in Advertising with Dentsu. He plans to pursue brand management after graduating from Kellogg in June.


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