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The 2023 AMA Philadelphia Superbowl Smackdown: A Great Debate

Superbowl Smackdown Play-by-Play 

The Super Bowl is the one game in the sports calendar each year where people really do wait in anticipation for the commercials. 

According to AdWeek, Fox took in close to $600 million in ad revenue for the single event, charging more than $7 million for 30 seconds of advertising time. A great ad can launch a brand to massive success. But a dud can result in millions of dollars lost, a brand that needs to be rebuilt, and a public relations team that will not sleep for another six months.

For over 15 years, the Philadelphia chapter of the American Marketing Association has hosted the Superbowl Smackdown, where a panel of experienced marketing professionals analyzes the marketing impact of the brands featured in the Super Bowl commercials.

First Down: The Marketing Panel

Jim and Michael At SuperBowl Smackdown

Left: Jim Thompson. Right: Michael Solomon


Left to right: Jim Thompson, Dana Weber, and and Chris Johnson

This year’s Smackdown met at Yards brewery, with a distinguished group of panel members:

  • Michael Solomon, Professor of Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University, a marketing consultant, and the author of Buying, Having, and Being  (one of the most used books on consumer behavior) was our panel’s moderator.
  • Dana Weber, Global Director, Client Services at TransPerfect.
  • Chris Johnson, Global Brand Director at AstraZeneca.
  • Jim Thompson, former Global CEO of Ipsos ASI and current marketing professor at Temple University.
  • Matthew Roberts, President of the Philadelphia chapter, who presided as Master of Ceremonies. 

The panel had experience launching major advertising campaigns, and encouraged lively debate among the attendees. While the creative aspect is factored in as part of the conversation, there is a strong professional focus on branding and marketing conversion.

After analysis and debate, attendees are encouraged to vote on which brands delivered best from a marketing point of view. Each brand goes head to head, two at a time (“Home” vs.”Away”) within a specific category, such as ‘snack food” or “beer.” This makes it a truly unique experience, compared to the commodity of post-game ad review blogs.

Second Down: Rakuten vs. Temu

Dana Weber led a highly engaging debate between the panel and the audience when the shopping battle of Rakuten vs. Temu came up. Opinions were strong, not just on the use of Reese Witherspoon’s famous movie character, but on the product positioning of Temu. It was compared against the graveyard of previous mobile apps that have taken aim at the low-price fashion market.

Third Down: Doritos vs. M&Ms

During Doritos vs. M&Ms, the conversation addressed the entire context of the ads, and in particular, the role Maya Rudolph played. Discussion centered on how Mars, Inc. handled the ad that centered on the recent M&M controversy, how it managed its brand, the current operational spend in support of their brand, and what options from a positioning standpoint were available for the candy company going forward after the Big Game.

Voting for the Winning Strategy: Home or Away?

Fourth down: Religion and Controversy

Controversial ad placements during the Super Bowl have become a hot topic. In 2013, it was the GoDaddy commercials, and last year, the acceptance of cryptocurrency as a legitimate product to sell. This year, two different religious groups came up with enough dollars to launch Super Bowl ads, backed by wealthy donors. The complicated nature of marketing principles and how religion plays a role in society resulted in a complex and respectfully passionate debate.

A Two-Point “Conversion”

Actively participating at the Smackdown were the collegiate chapters of the AMA from both Temple and St. Joseph’s universities. In addition to the debate, there was also a marketing “conversion” goal in mind — that someone would get hired as a result of the event. The conversations that followed were promising for at least one!


While the Super Bowl ends the football season, Philly AMA is just getting started! Stay tuned for additional  Executive Circle lunches for the spring, as well as our “Marketing Mix at 6” networking events across the Philadelphia region.  

Keep monitoring your email inboxes and check our events page for upcoming information about these great events!