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Experts available on Super Bowl ads

EVANSTON, Ill. — Experts from Northwestern University are available to speak with media about the advertising trends they expect to see during the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 13.

Danielle Robinson Bell is an assistant professor in the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Her area of expertise is communications that drive business results and relationships for organizations, brands and executives, and she specializes in work that advances efforts related to equity, inclusion, women in the workplace and BIPOC for various business types. She can be reached at

Quote from Professor Bell
“It’s been a big year for brands and DEI. More and more, we’ve seen brands use their messaging and communications platforms to advance their equity and inclusion efforts. The spots that have been pre-released thus far are upbeat and deliver on pop culture nostalgia, humor, and big action and adventure. These creative devices aren’t new to Super Bowl advertising, but they hit a note that maybe we could all use at the moment. It will be interesting to see which messages end up in the big game (not all spots are pre-released) and which ones appear in other channels adjacent to network television but no less effective at reaching audiences.

“The NFL’s DEI issues are embedded in the culture of the league. It’s deep rooted — so deep that any messaging in support of DEI efforts would not resonate in the way the league would have hoped. In this case, I would pay attention to their actions, not their words.” 

Derek Rucker is the Sandy & Morton Goldman Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies in Marketing at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. His work asks, and seeks answers to, what makes for effective advertising and what motives underlie consumer consumption. He can be reached by contacting Haley Rebecca Robinson at

Quote from Professor Rucker
“Super Bowl ads now come in at more than $5 million for a 30-second spot. There’s a lot you can do in advertising for $5 million and a lot of brands will spend more on their Super Bowl spot than other brands will spend throughout the entire year.

“It’s hard to find another channel that meets two parameters — audience size and attention, which is a focal reason why the cost of Super Bowl ads has continued to rise. As consumers attempt to return to normalcy, brands have an opportunity to re-engage and attract consumers to put themselves back at the forefront of consumers’ minds — an objective the big stage of the Super Bowl can facilitate.”

Tim Calkins is a clinical professor of marketing at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He can be reached by contacting Haley Rebecca Robinson at

Quote from Professor Calkins
“The Super Bowl reflects the trends/tone of the country, and this year that is a return to fun, playful ads with no mention of quarantines, masks or the pandemic. We are going to see some old favorite characters return, including the E Trade Baby, the Clydesdales and Terry Tate. We’ll have to watch to see if these brands that have historically ruled the game continue to get top billing or if brands new to the game like Irish Spring resonate more.”