SVSU Business Dean Continues Leading Research on Super Bowl Ads

This coming Sunday, Feb. 2 marks not only the competition for the NFL’s Super Bowl, but the corresponding competition for whose advertisements during the game are deemed most successful.  Rama Yelkur, dean of the College of Business and Management at Saginaw Valley State University, is one of the nation’s leading experts on whether viewers find ads to be likable.

The stakes are high; a 30-second commercial during this year’s Super Bowl broadcast costs $4 million. Yelkur has studied Super Bowl ads for 20 years and says there are certain factors that can predict whether an ad will appeal to viewers.

“Some of the top reasons are because it’s funny, there’s music or there are animals in it,” she said. “The presence of kids also makes it likable.

“The presence of celebrities is give-or-take,” Yelkur added. “The audience is already hyped up, but you get another stage of hype with celebrities.”

Along with her late research colleague Chuck Tomkovick, Yelkur’s work has been published in leading scholarly journals and has been cited widely in popular media, including Advertising Age, CNN Money, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.

Many traditional advertisers will have a significant presence again this year.  For instance, Anheuser-Busch InBev — which markets beers such as Budweiser, Bud Light and Beck’s — once again has bought exclusive rights to Super Bowl ads over competing beer companies. So you’ll only see that company’s beer brands.

“That’s something they’ve done for years,” Yelkur said. “They’ll have several commercials. People come to expect them in the game. They’ve come to expect unusual, creative commercials for those advertisements.”

She pointed out the appearance of Clydesdale horses in Budweiser commercials as one example of an Anheuser-Busch InBev advertisement that people look forward to and think of as creative.

A new player in the Super “Ad Bowl” is Nestle.

“Mars has been a regular,” Yelkur said of the competing candy company that markets brands such as M&Ms, “but Nestle is new to the Super Bowl. They’ll be coming in this year with Butterfinger ads.”

While some advertising players are new, some past performers will be absent.

“An unusual thing is that E-Trade, with the talking baby, has dropped out this year,” Yelkur said of the once-popular Super Bowl ad staple.

Yelkur joined SVSU in July 2013 and will continue her Super Bowl ad research, including SVSU students in the process.  A focus group will evaluate this year’s commercials in SVSU classroom Science East 116 during the game.

Links to Research Articles:

Note: Hyperlinks are to articles available electronically from the SVSU Library databases. A SVSU login is required. If you do not have a SVSU login, email Yelkur directly at ryelkur@svsu.edu.


Yelkur, R., Tomkovick, C., Hofer, A., & Rozumalski, D. (2013). Super Bowl ad likeability: Enduring and emerging predictors. Journal Of Marketing Communications, 19(1), 58-80. doi:10.1080/13527266.2011.581302

Tomkovick, C., Yelkur, R., Rozumalski, D., Hofer, A., & Coulombe, C. J. (2011). Super bowl ads linked to firm value enhancement. Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness, 5(2), 29-43

Yelkur, R., Tomkovick, C., & Traczyk, P. (2004). Super Bowl Advertising Effectiveness: Hollywood Finds the Games Golden. Journal Of Advertising Research, 44(1), 143-159.

Tomkovick, C., Yelkur, R., & Christians, L. (2001). The USA's biggest marketing event keeps getting bigger: an in-depth look at Super Bowl advertising in the 1990s. Journal Of Marketing Communications, 7(2), 89-108. doi:10.1080/135272601750255171

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