Punch-Line Ads Score Big in Pro Football Birthplace Canton, Ohio

Survey Asked People In Bellwether City To Rate Best, Worst Super Bowl Commercials

Canton, Ohio (January 27, 2003)-Super Bowl television commercials with punch-line humor made the biggest impact in a survey designed to measure the opinions of viewers here in Canton, Ohio, the birthplace of professional football.

The on-line poll was conducted by Innis Maggiore Group, an advertising agency based here. This year's survey results followed trends established in previous years' polls in that humorous ads scored highest here. Survey respondents, again following a similar trend established in previous years, yawned over ads that took a relatively straight approach in delivering their messages or used humor in a way that failed to sink in with the respondents.

"A good laugh is like a special gift from the advertiser , it scores big with TV viewers here in middle America," said Innis Maggiore Group Creative Director Jeff Goldman. "This year, our bellwether audience in Canton told us Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, FedEx and Reebok did that best of all."

Conversely, the ads that flopped used creative approaches that were not executed to the same degree of perfection as the winners' efforts, Goldman said.

"Our poll continues to show us that the best Super Bowl commercials are those that make people laugh out loud while they reinforce the advertisers' messages," Goldman said. "Of course, it would be inappropriate to do a funny ad about illegal drugs and terrorism. But that takes us to the question: Is it a good idea to tackle serious subjects during the Super Bowl? The message may be very important, but will the audience listen?"

Following are the best five Super Bowl ads, as rated by fans here in Canton:

  1. Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser "Clydesdales Replay”
  2. FedEx "Castaway"
  3. Pepsi Twist "Ozzie's Nightmare"
  4. Reebok "Terry Tate, Office Linebacker"
  5. Pepsi Sierra Mist "Fire Hydrant"

The worst five:

  1. Levi Strauss Type1 jeans
  2. Subway "Jared"
  3. Visa USA Check Card "Yao Ming"
  4. Monster.com "Driver on the loose"
  5. Pepsi Twist "Ozzie's Nightmare"

"Having a little fun with the state of today's NFL officiating struck a major chord with folks here in Canton," Goldman said. The Budweiser ad featured a zebra looking at a replay camera. "Everybody who watches any football understood the image immediately, unlike the Levi Strauss ad that I don't think anyone has figured out yet." In that ad, a man and woman in Levis faced a stampeding herd of bison. "I think our respondents felt lost on that one," Goldman said.

Goldman said it was interesting that the Pepsi Twist commercial featuring rocker Ozzie Osbourne made the "best" and "worst" lists.

"Despite his renewed popularity, Ozzie Osbourne's television show doesn't appeal to everyone. I think that here in Canton, people either love him or hate him," Goldman said.

Canton is an excellent choice for gauging the public's opinions about Super Bowl television ads for a number of reasons. It was one of the National Football League's original franchise cities and is the site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In addition, the city often is selected as a barometer of how heartland America stands on national trends and issues.

"We began our Canton survey three years ago because we thought other Americans would be interested in knowing how we rate the creative work displayed during the Super Bowl, the highest-profile advertising event of the year," said Dick Maggiore, president of Innis Maggiore Group. "People like the opportunity to let advertisers know first-hand whether their money was well spent. The ads themselves are the subject of Monday morning 'quarterbacking' as much as the game itself."

Co-sponsors of the survey this year were Atwood Lake Resort and Conference Center and Fishers Foods.

Innis Maggiore Group is an advertising and public relations firm with nearly 60 associates and offices in Canton and Youngstown, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pa. The company has tripled in size since 1997, with 2002 capitalized billings of more than $26 million. Key clients include Microsoft's MSN, Aultman Health Foundation, Brewster Dairy, Liquid Control Corp., Louisiana-Pacific Corp., Microsoft Corp., NancyLopezGolf, NEOUCOM, Nickles Bakery, Parker Hannifin, Progressive Foam Technologies, Rainbow Rentals, Republic Engineered Products, Smithers-Oasis Co., Square Two Golf and Waikem Auto Group. Innis Maggiore is a member of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Direct Marketing Association, the National Investor Relations Institute and the Public Relations Society of America. The company maintains a website at www.innismaggiore.com.

For more information contact:

Jim Cyphert
PR Director
Innis Maggiore
P: 330-492-5500
C: 330-501-9886
Email Jim Cyphert

"Positioning is the single most powerful concept in marketing. To stake a position means an organization, product, or service stands for one thing in the minds of prospects."

- Dick Maggiore

"Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make."

- Bill Bernbach

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