Published: Feb. 6, 2011

MSU profs rate Volkswagen ad top Super Bowl commercial

Contact(s): Tom Oswald Media Communications office: (517) 432-0920 cell: (517) 281-7129, Kirsten Khire College of Communication Arts and Sciences office: (517) 432-0013 cell: (517) 944-1148

EAST LANSING, Mich.  — A Volkswagen television ad with a Star Wars twist earned the top grade in the Michigan State University Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Retailing’s list of the best commercials of Super Bowl XLV.

This marked the 14th year the MSU faculty have rated the Super Bowl commercials.

The ratings included 63 commercials that aired during the game. Volkswagen’s ad featuring a young Darth Vader took first place among the ads.

“The ad was cute and clever,” said MSU professor Bruce Vanden Bergh, who has been teaching advertising at MSU for 32 years. “Volkswagen is trying to sell a persona of being a family car. The commercial appeals to the mass audience.”

Volkswagen also took second-place honors with a spot for its Beetle.

Third through seventh place included a five-way tie with Audi, PepsiMax, Hyundai, Bud Light and the Detroit-centric Chrysler ad.

This year’s top Super Bowl commercials:

  • First place: Volkswagen Passat
  • Second place: Volkswagen Beetle
  • Third place (tie): Audi Castle, PepsiMax, Hyundai Electra, Chrysler and Bud Light - rain
  • Fourth place: Mercedes Benz
  • Fifth place: Bridgestone

Among the worst commercials were spots for Castrol oil, the movies Super 8 and Thor, and the Mini Cooper.

Using a five-point grading scale with the clickers, the 23 voting faculty members rated each commercial based on creativity, production and overall quality. This year, for the first time, the profs used “clicker” technology, normally used in their classrooms, to tabulate the results.


Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.


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