COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Advertising students at the University of South Carolina have declared Volkswagen's ad featuring a pint-sized Darth Vader the best commercial of Super Bowl XLV.
About 60 students in Bonnie Drewniany's Super Bowl Advertising class gathered at the SCETV building Sunday night to critique the national ads that aired during the game for likeability, persuasiveness and brand identity.
Drewniany said the class was split between the VW spot about a little boy who believes he can use the Force, and Doritos' "House Sitter" ad about a man who brings his roommate's grandfather back from the dead.
The winner was ultimately chosen by an online poll where other students, alumni and the community rated the ads using the same criteria. "This is the first time ever we have had a tie," said Drewniany. "We saw a lot of slapstick humor last night that fell short in resonating with viewers. In the end, it was the sweet, kinder and gentler humor of VW's 'Darth Vader' that people liked."
Doritos "House Sitter" and Chrysler "Detroit Tribute" took second and third place overall, respectively. "The Doritos ad was funny and had strong brand identity," said political science student Jonathan Williams.
Business student Lauren Bovit said scoring the ads helped her apply what she has learned about advertising. "I like the method for scoring the advertisements because it shows the different elements of what a commercial is about and how it appeals to the consumer," she said.
"It made you analyze if the advertising space and money spent were put to good use," added visual communications student Keri Goff.
Drewniany will invite the creator of the winning ad to campus to receive the award in April. Every year, the winning advertising team has come to campus to claim the Cocky Award and give students the inside scoop on how the commercial was made.
The beer companies eased the competition Sunday night, giving way to new commercial stars. User-submitted commercials from the Doritos and Pepsi MAX Crash the Super Bowl ad contest dominated airwaves.
One such star, the pug in Doritos' "Pug Attack," graced the small screen with his large, hungry eyes. The ad tied for the top spot in the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter, along with Anheuser-Busch's "Dog Sitter" spot in which a crafty dog sitter employs his dogs to serve drinks at a house party.
The price tag of $3 million for a 30-second spot should keep these commercials playing on repeat throughout the year.