USC Journalism Students Name Top Super Bowl Ads

COLUMBIA, SC —Journalism students at the University of South Carolina watched the Super Bowl and all its commercials and have named the winner of the 14th Annual Cocky Award for best ad: Buick’s commercial starring Cam Newton as a Pee Wee football player.

“I think because they used him and he’s very likable, but also the little kids, and it was just well done,” says USC advertising major Ivy McCleary, a junior. “It was a nice little story line. It was funny, so that, I think, appealed to a lot of people.”

Students considered the ads’ effects on brands’ identities, as well as their likability and persuasiveness.

Second place went to Mr. Clean’s ad “Cleaner of Your Dreams,” while third went to Bai sweetened water’s ad featuring Christopher Walken and Justin Timberlake.

USC also had a public vote and its results were different. The public gave first place to a controversial 84 Lumber ad about a mother and daughter trying to immigrate to the United States. Fox Sports would not allow the entire ad to be shown because of its political statement, so the ad directed viewers to see the rest of the story online. The online traffic was so heavy the website crashed.

The public vote had the Buick Cam Newton ad in second place, with third going to another controversial ad, this one by Budweiser, called “Born the Hard Way.” It shows Budweiser co-founder Adolphus Busch’s journey to the United States in the 1800s to start a new business, which the company says celebrates the American dream. Critics say it’s a pro-immigration swipe at the Trump administration.

USC junior David Feely, an advertising minor, says his favorite commercial was for Busch beer, but he says he’s partial because Anheuser Busch was the company his group was assigned to study beforehand. He’s now majoring in Media Arts, but originally wanted to be a filmmaker, and that interest influenced how he rated the commercials.

“That’s what I look for, is how powerful, and how relevant, and how appealing your story can be in such a short amount of time, how you can grab someone’s attention and then make them contemplate about what you just showed them, and then, therefore, persuade them to invest in whatever you are selling or promoting,” he says.

USC will invite the makers of the winning Buick ad to campus to receive their Cocky Award and talk to the students about how they made the commercial.