UNO faculty, alumni and local professionals discuss best and worst Super Bowl ads

Photo courtesy Dafnis Delgado
Panelists at this year’s event were mostly in agreement that Tide had one of the best Super Bowl commercials while Ram Trucks had one of the worst.
Alexandria Wilson

It was a cold and snowy Tuesday night at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, but the Omaha Room in the Milo Bail Student Center was standing room only during the Best and Worst Super Bowl Commercials Panel.

The panel, which featured a mixture of UNO alumni, faculty and local communications professionals, was put together by the School of Communication, Ad Club, PRSSA/MaverickPR and Capstone Communication.

The panelists included Hugh Reilly, director of the UNO School of Communication; Christine Dunn, event project coordinator at Vic Gutman and Associates; Melanie Morrissey Clark, president at Clark Creative Group; Michael Johnson, senior copywriter at Bailey Lauerman; and David Moore, creative director at Bozell.

Kerrigan Flynn, one of the event coordinators, said organizers used their connections in the School of Communication to pick panelists. Some of the panelists were veterans of the event from previous years.

Flynn said having a diverse panel gave students the opportunity to socialize and network with some members of the field they plan to go into.

“We wanted it to be a networking opportunity and to make professionals available to those who came,” Flynn said.

Before the event, those on the panel sent in a few of their picks for the best and worst ads of the Super Bowl.

Before the top picks were played, student hosts Gabby Kesterson and Colt Paulsen asked the panelists to describe some of the themes they thought were popular during this year’s Super Bowl.

Most agreed that being “cause related” was at the forefront of a lot of brands’ campaigns. There were mixed feelings as to whether this worked for the ads, but they agreed that companies should steer clear of “tooting their own horn” about the charitable work they do.

When it came time to discuss the favorite ads of the night, the panelists were given a chance to discuss why they chose the ad that they did and what they thought made it a good ad.

One set of commercials made several of the panelists’ top lists, including the Tide commercials.

Johnson said that typically, an ad knowing it is an ad can be a cheap route to take. However, Johnson thought Tide did it right by “being self-aware for a strategic purpose.”

While Tide came out on top, there was one ad all of the panelists agreed belonged on the worst list: Ram Truck’s ad that used audio from a Martin Luther King Jr. speech. The ad was repeatedly referred to as “tone deaf.”

“To make a great ad, you have to take a risk,” Moore said. “But that was not a good risk to take.”

The panelists were also able to offer industry insight during the event. Some of the questions had panelists discussing the actual process of creating an ad, which was one of the goals of the event.

“We wanted students to hear about the thought process behind creating ads,” Flynn said.

Learning about what goes into making an ad was the goal of UNO senior Cassandra Jahn, as well.

“I wanted to learn what goes into making a really great commercial,” Jahn said.