Kickoff For Ad Season
By David Stires

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Wondering which Super Bowl ads everyone will be talking about this year?

Chuck Tomkovick, who played guard on his high school team and is now a professor of marketing at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, has a pretty good idea. He's examined every nationally televised Super Bowl ad from the 1990s (454 ads in all), scrutinizing everything from actors' ages to number of words uttered. Using viewer feedback from USA Today's annual Super Bowl focus group, Tomkovick and colleague Rama Yelkur then ran a multiple regression analysis to come up with a "likability model." Among their findings: Animals trump celebrities more than two-to-one; commercials longer than a minute aren't very effective; and ads for cars or business-to-business services usually flop. (Note to Chrysler: Celine Dion singing while driving a Crossfire was a bad idea.) The two will soon publish a follow-up study about movie ads in the Super Bowl. The one downside? They no longer watch the game for fun. "We'll be videotaping and analyzing the ads so we can do the Monday talk shows," he says. "This is the time when we go to work." --David Stires