Academic Minute Podcast

Niusha Jones, Boise State University – The Secret Recipe for Super Bowl Ads

The Super Bowl is the one time everyone watches the commercials.

Niusha Jones, assistant professor of marketing at Boise State University, discusses the qualities behind the ones that become our favorites.

Dr. Niusha Jones is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the College of Business and Economics at Boise State University. Niusha’s academic research focuses on consumer motivations and psychology of brand and product design, with a particular interest in the effects of design elements on shaping consumers feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Her research has been published in leading outlets in marketing including the Journal of Marketing Research and the Journal of Advertising.

The Secret Recipe for Super Bowl Ads

While we’ve always known that emotions play a big role in how we react to advertisements, our recent study has uncovered something truly fascinating. Using cutting-edge emotion recognition technology, we analyzed the facial expressions of actors in Super Bowl ads over the past five years. Our goal? To see how a mix of emotions, particularly positive and negative ones, influences our liking for these ads.

What we discovered is quite intriguing. Ads that blend happiness with a hint of sadness actually become more endearing to us. It’s as if this emotional cocktail resonates more deeply with our feelings. However, when happiness is combined with fear, the opposite happens – our liking for the ad decreases. Interestingly, mixing happiness with anger or disgust doesn’t seem to have a significant impact.

We also looked into the presence of celebrities, babies, and animals in these ads. It turns out that these elements, along with specific content like cars, beer, electronics, insurance, snacks, and sports, really capture viewers’ interest.

These findings open up new avenues for understanding how emotions shape consumer attitudes. It’s not just about a simple happy or sad reaction; it’s about the nuanced interplay of feelings. So, the next time you find yourself watching those Super Bowl ads, remember, there’s a whole science behind why certain ones stay in our minds long after the game is over.


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