Super Bowl XLVII: America’s Marketing H.S. Harnesses Power of Pop Culture

Is it the dog bribing the cat-owner with Doritos? Or the Dalmatian training the has-been Clydesdale to “Rocky”-like victory? We all have our favorite Super Bowl commercials (and yes, some of us only watch the Super Bowl in order to scoop the next ad classic!). But what takes a commercial to viral-level, and what does that mean for the economy?

250 local students are learning that the entertaining Big Game commercials also mean Big Business. The students are taking part in America’s Marketing High School (AMHS) – a unique curriculum combining video lectures, podcasts and marketing course-work, culminating in an intense Super Bowl ad review and rating event known nationally as “Super Bowl Ad Nauseam”.

Dr. Michael Bernacchi, Marketing Professor at University of Detroit Mercy (UDM), and Paul Galbenski, 2011-2012 Michigan Teacher of the Year and Dean of Oakland Schools Technical Campus-NE, teamed up nine years ago to bring Bernacchi’s original “Ad Nauseam” college course to high school students pursuing career-based studies.

Students learn about the socio-cultural and economic impact of the Super Bowl (America’s #1 sports-entertainment event), the astronomical cost of the ads and the mind-boggling effect a successful Super Bowl ad can have on a product or brand or even on national consciousness! What makes an ad memorable? Students enrolled in America’s Marketing High School will be equipped to judge and rate during Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, February 3.

“The AMHS curriculum is supplemental to all business and marketing courses,” said Dean Galbenski. “The material is contemporary and empirically-based, and relevant to student culture.”

Hundreds of high-schoolers across the country are participating in this year’s event. Their teachers have registered access to FREE in-depth marketing curriculum, support materials and the online Super Bowl Survey; local students are also invited to attend a Pizza, Pop, Pretzel & Press Party at UDM the day after the game (a live-streamed debriefing also known as “Water Cooler Monday”).

Mike Bernacchi and Paul Galbenski were definitely ahead of the trend in 2004 by using the phenomenon of pop culture to teach teens about business concepts.  Professor Alfred Smith and Lee Ann Rawley discuss TV commercials’ inherent “design for impact” and educational purpose in Using TV Commercials to Teach Listening and Critical Thinking:

“The TV commercial is a powerful tool as any politician, industrialist, businessman or communications expert will attest. A well-crafted commercial is both visually and linguistically memorable, making use of clever slogans, catchy songs, and striking visual images to capture the attention of television viewers. The impact of an entertaining commercial is beyond the pedagogical powers and resources of teachers to create. However, that power can be harnessed in the…classroom by using TV commercials to teach both listening and critical thinking skills.”

AMHS and Super Bowl Ad Nauseam introduce more than economic and marketing models to students; the commercials offer a glimpse into our cultural values. The AMHS modules help teens understand and define the huge economic impact of pop culture on millions of TV viewers who thought the Super Bowl’s entertaining ad breaks were simply about Pepsi vs. Coke. Or a pilot jumping out of the plane for a Bud Light. Or Betty White needing a Snickers bar while playing tackle football…

AMHS students will be putting their training into play during Super Bowl XLVII, and giving the rest of us the benefit of their marketing insight. It doesn’t really matter which Super Bowl ad is rated #1; harnessing the power of TV commercials to inspire student critical thinking skills is already an educational WIN.



America’s Marketing High School

MORE Super Bowl /Football-related Activities for Students (via Cybrary Man)

How to Teach with Popular Culture in the Classroom (eHow)

from Jean MacLeod, Communications/Oakland Schools

Oakland Schools


Oakland Schools • 2111 Pontiac Lake Road • Waterford, MI 48328-2736 • 248.209.2000

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