Senior finance major Kevin Judge called it Sunday night at 9:11 p.m., tweeting, "PopCorners with the best ad of the night." Whether reading the room or expressing his personal opinion, he was spot on.
Judge and fellow students in the Super Bowl of Advertising class selected PopCorners "Breaking Good" Super Bowl commercial as the 20th winner of the coveted Cocky Award. Disney's "Disney100 Special Look" and The Farmer's Dog's "Forever" rounded out the top three.
The class, whose students represent a variety of majors, gathered in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications Sunday night to watch the big game and critique the commercials. The national ads are graded on likability, persuasiveness and brand identity. PopCorners placed tops in all three categories.
"The success of the PopCorners spot reflects the enduring influence of Breaking Bad among today's college students, but it's worth noting that its highest score was brand identity," says class instructor Russ Gottwald. "The product was on camera for most of the spot, and that plus the fact that the characters, rather than the actors, were featured made the difference I believe."
Junior advertising major Maddie Seabolt concurred, saying she thought the PopCorners ad was effective because of its current relevance, especially in light of the fact that usually Super Bowl advertising is produced far in advance.
"The internet has made the world a very changing place; a lot of things come and go in terms of popularity. And Breaking Bad is one of those things that’s really big right now, but it’s also been big over time," she says. "So, I think the timing of it, especially with it reaching new heights right now, is really key, and that’s why that one works so well."
The Carolina community was invited to join in the action by voting online and participate in the online discussion using the hashtag #USCAdPoll.
Voters in the online poll used the same criteria as the class, although with different results. PopCorners received a number of votes in all three categories, but was handily outpaced by Doritos "Jack's New Angle" ad. Although it only scored the top spot in brand identity, it garnered enough votes in the other categories to place first overall in the online poll.
The PopCorners spot was the inaugural Super Bowl effort from D3, Frito-Lay's in-house agency. The class will invite the team to campus later in the semester to receive their Cocky Award trophies and share behind-the-scenes stories about how the commercial was made.