MSU Advertising and Public Relations Faculty to Rate and Critique Super Bowl Ads in Real Time

Jan 24, 2018

On February 4 when millions will be watching the New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, Bob Kolt and his colleagues will be paying closer attention to the commercials inside the game than to the game itself.

Kolt is president and CEO of Kolt Communications and a professor in practice in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations in the College of Communication Arts & Sciences at Michigan State University.

For the 21st consecutive year, Kolt and his colleagues will gather to rate and critique the ads in real time.

“The Super Bowl for the advertising industry is like Oscar night for the movie industry,” says Kolt. “It’s the biggest night of the year. Any big advertiser wants a place in the game somewhere to promote their product.”

A 30-second spot in this year’s game will cost about $5 million.

“It’s a huge investment for advertisers. You can’t get it wrong. You have to have a good Super Bowl ad.

“An ad should be designed to generate sales; that’s what advertising does,” Kolt adds. “But in the Super Bowl, you might want to just shape your image or reinforce a positive reputation.”

Kolt says the Super Bowl gets a bigger audience across all demographic groups than any other event in America in one night.

“And it’s the second biggest food holiday next to Thanksgiving.”

Kolt adds that “every spot now in this day and age has a public relations campaign associated with it. And every ad will have an online presence.” Most of the ads are available for viewing online before they air in the game.

Kolt says the communications students he teaches at MSU “need to be visually oriented. There are so many channels of communication available now. It’s not enough to be a good writer. But it’s doing things in short headlines that attract attention and pull people in.

“The change over time that I’ve seen at Michigan State University in our Department of Advertising and Public Relations is that we’re not only looking for exposure with our advertising but engagement, too. We want an audience to be engaged in our spot – to take in the information and in some way to interact.

“It used to be that we measured all advertising just by impressions. That whole model has changed today.”

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