Most classes have gone virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the School of Journalism
and Mass Communications’ Super Bowl Commercials class is no exception. This year’s
class — and the 18th annual Cocky’s Super Ad Poll — will be online.
In previous years, more than 100 students in the Super Bowl Commercials class have
gathered in the SJMC for food, football and – most importantly — ads. Some fans watch
the Super Bowl for the actual game, but these students come to view and vote on the
best advertisements of the night. This year, new instructor Russ Gottwald has taken over the class from retired professor Bonnie Drewniany and adapted it into
a virtual experience. Gottwald has nearly a decade of experience in the advertising
“Because of COVID, many students were already going to be attending virtually,” Gottwald
says. “So, we decided to make a virtue of necessity and expanded the number of students
who could register for the class.”
Students aren’t the only ones who can participate. The public is invited to tweet
using #UofSCAdPoll during the game to engage with fellow viewers. And Gottwald hopes that the ad creators
will also get involved in the Twitter conversation, too.
Students vote on each ad’s likability, persuasiveness and brand identity, criteria
that have not changed from year to year. What will be changing, however, is the actual
voting process. Instead of voting during the game, students will now vote during class
on the Tuesday after the game and the winner will be announced Wednesday morning.
Gottwald says COVID-19 will also influence the number of ads during this year’s game.
Many major companies have decided against paying for ad space this year and are instead
donating to COVID-19 relief organizations. Among those who’ve withdrawn are Coca-Cola,
Pepsi and Budweiser — all previous Ad Poll winners.
“Sub-brands such as Mountain Dew and Bud Light will still have a presence,” Gottwald
says. “With flagships all so well-known, and with Pepsi still sponsoring the halftime
show and Budweiser posting a video explaining their decision as well as tying the
brand to COVID response and vaccine efforts, they’ll be almost as much a part of the
conversation around the Super Bowl as ever.”
Paige Fallon is an intern in the communications office of the College of Information
and Communications. She is a senior public relations major and political science
minor. She plans on attending law school after taking a gap year post graduation to
explore her interests in the field of law.