Cheetos wins 2021 Kellogg School Super Bowl Review

(Cheetos scored first place in the Kellogg survey)

Don’t get Super Bowl fatigue just yet. There’s a little bit more to our roundup. Cheetos is the big winner in strategic ad rankings with its “It Wasn’t Me” ad in the 17th consecutive Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review.

Other brands that earned top marks include Amazon, Bud Light Seltzer, Doritos, and Indeed. Not all advertisers had a winning night, including DraftKings, Skechers, Squarespace, and WeatherTech, which received low grades during this year’s Super Bowl for fumbling on strategy and effectiveness.

“Cheetos is the winning ad this year with its ‘It Wasn’t Me’ spot because it had very strong branding and played off its known attributes to leverage its equity in a simple and clear message,” said Derek D. Rucker, Sandy & Morton Goldman professor of entrepreneurial studies in marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. “A lot of money is on the line for any brand who advertises in the Super Bowl and they put themselves in position to benefit from the exposure.”

If you missed the spot, here it is:

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What about the brands that did not perform so well? Rucker added, “For those who fumbled, such as Skechers, DraftKings and Squarespace, they suffered on some basic blocking and tackling with regard to ensuring linkage and building a strong position.”  

This year, most brands played it safe and avoided the pressing topics facing our nation, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, social justice and politics. However, a few brands did choose to share warm and empowering messages that attempted to inspire viewers or reunite the nation, including Jeep, NFL, Bass Pro Shops and Indeed.   

“Overall, this year’s Super Bowl featured safe ads with light humor. But, it was good to see some brands aim for more empowering messages.  Still, we didn’t see any major breakthroughs or ads that we’ll be talking about for years to come,” said Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and co-leads the school’s Ad Review.

The Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review uses a strategic academic framework known as ADPLAN to evaluate the strategic effectiveness of Super Bowl spots. The acronym helps viewers grade ads based on Attention, Distinction, Positioning, Linkage, Amplification and Net Equity.

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A full list of the rankings is available here.