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Advertising & Marketing: Special Super Bowl Coverage

Which Ads Entertained and Which Were Merely Annoying

January 29, 1998

Last week, we asked readers to share their opinions on the ads shown during the Super Bowl. The FedEx ad showing a test pattern scored with many of those who responded. Also high on their lists were ads for Tabasco, Pepsi, Budweiser and Doritos. Ranking near the bottom were ads for technology companies, which readers found confusing. A sample of reader responses:

I used the "chuckle-meter" method. The Tabasco exploding bug spot drew the heartiest guffaw of all. The look in the pizza-eating fellow's eyes was superb.

The Budweiser "guys shopping" spot took second. It didn't hurt to have a couple of maritally blissed guys watching it with me, either.

Federal Express' "test pattern" ranked third. The low-cost presentation might not be good for SAG [Screen Actors Guild] people, but it gave me a good laugh.

JIM SNIDEMAN, Commerce Township, Mich.


The little girl with the elephant advertising Visa was huge--and the best. That didn't cost peanuts, I'm sure.

The most unforgettable was the [Frito-Lay's] Doritos one in the Laundromat. What a talent, catching those Doritos!

The Elvis spot for Pizza Hut failed. So did Pepsi with the mosquito. Superman and Seinfeld for American Express was a hit. It probably received a lot of attention because the game was so super up to the end, when the spot aired.

DENNIS POTTS, Newport Beach


We took you up on the challenge to watch the ads with an appraising eye. Here are the highlights of a poll taken at our party, attended by 10 people ranging in age from 12 to 55.

Budweiser, Pepsi, AT&T and California cheese should keep their agencies. Those ads had general appeal.

No one could figure out what Oracle was selling, but we liked the ad.

Westin Hotels got a BIG thumbs down for the throwaway line, "Who's he sleeping with?"

Hormel chili ads got the chutzpah award in our crowd. Next year we're hoping for a Spam campaign.

Overall, there were way too many ads. Keeping up with them made us feel like we'd run a marathon. The ads turned these wannabe couch potatoes into French fries.

LIZA WHITE, Calabasas


I'd have to say the Road Runner ad [for General Motors' Pontiac] was the best one. It was very creative and very funny, appealing to baby boomers.

My second choice is the Budweiser chicken. I really enjoyed that on the Super Bowl last year, and I thought this was a great sequel.

I disliked the Coca-Cola ad. It was so boring--why even come to the Super Bowl?

I was really disappointed with the Intel super-nerds--it was very dry and unappealing.

I've been watching Super Bowl commercials for years and, overall, this year is not as good as in the past.



I particularly liked the Federal Express ad. It was simple and had an element of surprise and wasn't loaded down with so many technical tricks. It was straightforward and effective.

JEANNIE FIELDS, West Los Angeles


I am a professor of marketing at the University of Southern California, teaching advertising to college seniors. During the week after the Super Bowl, we review every ad that ran (I tape them all), and we grade them. We thought you might be interested in our grades for the first batch of ads--we've gone through half so far.

Doritos Laundromat: A

Visa with the elephant: A

Pepsi's refueling goose ad: A-

Budweiser lizards: A-

Continental Tire: A-

Intel's whodunit: A-

Westin Hotels: B+

SunAmerica: B

Holiday Inn's spot with the jury: B

Qualcomm revolution: C+

Pontiac Grand Prix: C+

M&M millennium: C

Pizza Hut's Elvis: C

Pepsi's Wayans spot: C

Chrysler Concorde LX: C

Oracle's red chair: C

Pepsi's "Brown Sugar": C-

JAMES ELLIS, Los Angeles


The ads were somewhat entertaining and elaborate, but they were not of the caliber of prior years.

Pepsi's "Brown Sugar" ad was cute and well-done but nowhere near as memorable as the 1995 ads with the kid being sucked into the bottle or the clash between Pepsi and Coke. The 1996 ad with the Coke delivery guy who knocks down all the cans in the cooler was a far better ad.

The computer electronics companies had very interesting and high-tech-type ads. Only thing is, they didn't create any name recognition. I can describe the ad with the guy who thinks everyone is cheering him. I can tell you it is for a cell phone. But whose?

The Road Runner ad was really cute until the end. The ending was very blase and made it seem that the directors ran out of time.

PETER H. FINIE, Los Angeles

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