Neal Burns

Undeclared freshman Grace Bellone (left) and public relations plan II freshman Caroline Read (right) watch the final minutes of Super Bowl XLVIII at Tower Pizza Bistro on Sunday evening. Bellone was frustrated to see the Seattle Seahawks dominate the Denver Broncos with a final score of 43-8. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

For many TV viewers, the Seattle Seahawks’ 43-8 thrashing of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday night was a distraction from the real game going on — the ads.

At a yearly panel organized by the public affairs, advertising and public relations departments of the Moody College of Communication, seven advertising professors came together to discuss the Super Bowl’s ads via Twitter.

University professors and lecturers tweeted their opinions on the Super Bowl commercials under #SBAdJudge. University advertising and public relations students also tweeted under #AdGradBowl and #ADV378S.

Public relations junior Hugo Rojo said the Super Bowl is as much of an event for those interested in advertising as it is for football fans.

“It’s almost a national holiday for sports aficionados, so you can imagine what it’s like for us advertising and PR folk,” Rojo said.

Advertising professor Neal Burns said he thinks this year’s panel had a nice mix of perspectives, as each contributor focuses on different aspects of the ads.

“I’m interested in the brand,” Burns said. “And I’m interested in how well the spot supports the image I’ve got of the brand.”

Advertising assistant professor Carlos Hernandez said he looked for emotional appeals of the advertisements.

“It requires a lot of creativity and talent to create ads that can connect emotionally with their audience,” Hernandez said.

Advertisements with an emotional appeal dominated the airwaves this year. Advertising assistant professor Angeline Close said Coca-Cola’s “America Is Beautiful” ad was effective. 

“America as one is the theme behind the Coca-Cola spot. Superb use of music in advertising & multi-cultural branding. Pretty Ad.” Close tweeted.

The professors also commented on the strategies employed by the advertisements. Michael Mackert, an advertising and public relations associate professor, said he thought the RadioShack ad was especially clever. 

“Interesting from RadioShack, leaning into the idea that it’s old and outdated and needs to change. Loved that.” Mackert tweeted.

Burns said the Super Bowl commercials are important because they have the potential to not only reflect, but influence society.

“There’s a way in which advertising, on the one hand, reflects our culture, and other aspects where advertising helps create or articulate our culture,” Burns said.

While the audience numbers for Super Bowl XLVIII have not been released yet, last year’s event attracted about 108.7 million viewers. Becuase of the large audience size, a 30-second ad cost about $4 million.

Mackert said the ads would be a point of focus for him with or without an organized panel. 

“Since tweeting during the Super Bowl about ads is something I would have been doing anyway, it seemed like a fun way to engage with other faculty and students,” Mackert said.

Photo Credit: Colin Zelinski | Daily Texan Staff

Google Inc. is facing controversy and criticism after the company announced plans to consolidate privacy policies for its 60 products, services and websites into one set of rules next month. The new policy would enable Google to treat users as a single entity across all of the company’s products, meaning that a user signed into their Gmail account would be storing data on themselves every time they use Google’s web search, YouTube or any other Google service. This data would then return back to the user in the form of personalized ads designed for the individual while they browse Google’s services.

Critics of the change on both sides of the Atlantic have been quick to raise alarm about the change, including a bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators and representatives who sent an open letter to Google last week to clarify the exact workings of the policy. Google was also persuaded to delay the implementation of the new rules until March 1 after European Union data protection authorities asked the company to wait while they evaluated whether the new policy infringes on the rights of EU member states.

“Internet privacy advocates are concerned about how much information one company is going to know about you,” said David Jacobs, consumer protection fellow for the Washington D.C. based Electronic Privacy Information Center. “Once you start combining a lot of non-sensitive information about users in random searches, you start to develop a really accurate picture of a user, making that user a very tempting target for advertisers who are able to access that information.”

Jacobs said the major problem with the current policy is that the few ways users could opt out of data collection and solutions, like using the services without an account, are insubstantial when products like Gmail require the user to log in.

No transaction on the Internet can be completely private and privacy advocates must acknowledge that the Internet involves a two-way exchange, said advertising professor Neal Burns.

“The privacy issue becomes distressing to those who think their information should not be traded,” Burns said. “If you’re willing to pay for it, you‘re able to maintain a certain amount of privacy on the Internet. But by using a search engine like Google, we acknowledge that we are selling our privacy in exchange for free services.”

The exchange is also altering the relationship between advertiser and consumer, Burns said, which cuts out the middleman in newspapers and television advertising.

Services like Google will be largely the sole collectors of vast amounts information and even certain advertisers are wary of the company’s power, said Tess Levitan, president of the Texas Advertising Group.

“The combined information has certainly increased offerings to advertisers, but there’s also a concern that no one else can compete on that same level,” Levitan said. “Eventually advertisers will have to pay more to work within Google.”

Levitan said Google’s influence is easily seen in advertising classrooms at UT, where online mediums are becoming increasingly important and professors rely on predominately Google-created products for instruction.

Colin Gilligin, account planning director for Austin marketing firm Tocquigny, said the policy change is only a ‘coming out’ for Google. He said these policies have already been in place and the media has overexaggerated the policy shift.

“This is the poster child that gets a lot of darts thrown at it for privacy infringement, and concerns over censorship and privacy have been fresh since SOPA and PIPA came up,” Gilligin said. “Because Internet users are now more informed, users feel powerful enough to demand how their information is shared, and this could lead to competition with Google sometime in the future when a competitor offers more controlled service. It’s not likely any time soon, but now that this sort of discussion is happening it could shift the field quite a bit.”

Printed on, February 7, 2012 as:Users dismayed over consolidation

Although some retailers opened earlier than usual to accommodate shoppers on Black Friday, the extended hours did not translate into more sales, according to a shopping trend analysis firm. Nationally, there was only a 0.3 percent increase in sales from this day last year, according to ShopperTrak, a shopper-traffic and data analysis company. Shoppers spent $10.69 billion on Friday, up from $10.66 billion last year. Advertising professor Neal Burns said shoppers probably spend more money during Black Friday than any other weekend of the year. “There is a strong desire to stimulate the economy, especially during a period when the economy hasn’t been doing too well,” Burns said. “Economists will look at the results more seriously than they have in previous years to look for any changes and improvements.” The sales increase from 2008 to 2009 was slightly higher at 0.5 percent, according to ShopperTrak. However, total foot traffic in the United States increased by 2.2 percent this year. “Consumers think it will be a day of great buys and sales,” Burns said. “Generally speaking, what you’re trying to do is bring people into the stores with extraordinary offers. That’s a tactic that helps build traffic.” Debra Wendrock, store manager for Macy’s in Highland Mall, said the store’s turnout on Friday followed the national trend, seeing a large increase in foot traffic compared to last year. “There were a lot of great offers this year, and I think that’s what brought people into the stores,” Wendrock said. “It’s hard to stay at home when you can get that perfect gift item for a significantly reduced price.” Customers crowded into Macy’s at 4 a.m. to take advantage of early morning sales, even though the store and other local retailers offered the same specials through Saturday. “People pick and choose and are very planned with the way they shop,” Wendrock said. “For some customers, it’s a traditional thing. Some bring their aunts, uncles, sisters and cousins — their entire family — to participate in this shopping event.” Black Friday trends have also recently translated to online sales, Burns said. “The one thing that I think is interesting about Black Friday is that it is bleeding over into Black Thursday for a number of brick-and-mortar stores,” said marketing administration professor Leigh McAlister. “I’ve heard that this is a reaction to the fact that online stores are open 24 hours a day and the fact that online stores begin offering deals on Thanksgiving Thursday.” In comparison to the results of in-store sales, Friday’s online sales increased by 15.9 percent and customers spent 12.1 percent more than last year online, which followed a 33-percent increase in sales on Thanksgiving Day, according to IBM’s Coremetrics Benchmark Report for Black Friday. Karrol Kitt, a human development and family sciences associate professor, said one problem with Black Friday is holiday spending behavior can turn into an impulse affair. “Having a list and understanding what you want to pay for the gifts is a smart way to remain within a spending budget or plan,” she said. “The marketing is what enhances our desire to buy and our affection with material gifts, which we all too easily fall into and overspend.”