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February 3, 2016

SVSU ad expert Yelkur shares insights on 50 years of Super Bowl commercials

EXTRA: Below, watch video of Rama Yelkur and SVSU students reflecting on Super Bowl commercial history. Also, click here to read about Yelkur's plans to analyze Super Bowl 50's advertisements using an SVSU focus group.


Rama Yelkur, Saginaw Valley State University's dean of the College of Business and Management, has been one of the world's leading experts on Super Bowl advertising for pretty much all of the 21st century.

She has studied figures and charts and equations spanning 49 Super Bowls and the hundreds of marketing campaigns that have accompanied them. Her findings sometimes reveal complex data that points to even more complicated human behavior. Other times, it shows something she understood even before she became an expert on the subject of Super Bowl commercials: Watching people flee from a stampede of squirrels is hilarious.

“That one always sticks out in my head,” Yelkur said of the scene captured in Electronic Data System's “Running of the Squirrels” advertisement during the 2001 Super Bowl. “That really caught my attention because it took a worldwide event – the running of the bulls – and turned it into a memorable parody.”

The advertisement isn't often recognized among the iconic Super Bowl advertisements - the Mean Joe Greene appearance in a Coca-Cola 60-second spot in 1980 and the Orwellian Apple ad in 1984 are more likely to make that list, Yelkur admitted - but the squirrel-centric advertisement does represent a winning formula she has identified for many of the modern advertisements: humor and animals.

With Super Bowl 50 set for Sunday Feb. 7, Yelkur reflected on how that “winning formula” has changed for Super Bowl commercials over a half-century.

As was the case with the Super Bowl game itself, the coinciding advertisements in those early years weren't celebrated with nearly the same level of hype generated in 2016. That fact can be measured in dollars, Yelkur pointed out. For instance, CBS will sell 30-second advertising spots for $5 million during Super Bowl 50. In 1967, those same ads would have sold for $40,000, or about $280,000 when adjusting inflation to today‌'s dollars.

“You didn't really see the advertising ramp up until the 1980s,” she said. “The 1974 Joe Namath and Farrah Fawcett ad for Noxzema created a lot of hype, but the 1980s were when Super Bowl advertising really took off.”

The success of the Mean Joe Greene and Apple advertisements helped solidify the Super Bowl broadcast as high-profile advertising space that decade. So did the fact companies realized women also were watching the game and began adjusting their marketing accordingly.

Before the 1980s, most Super Bowl advertisements marketed shaving cream, razors, motor oil and vehicles. In the 1980s, marketing for food, beverages and movies became more prevalent. Many of those same types of products remain Super Bowl ad pillars today.

Trendy products have risen and fallen in prevalence during the game's commercial breaks. For instance, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, many Internet-based companies threw their hat in the ring. During the 2000 Super Bowl, 11 dotcom companies bought advertising space – some before their businesses had generated a single dollar of revenue, Yelkur said. The dotcom bubble burst shortly after, and the majority of those Internet-based advertisers from 2000 no longer exist.

The creative approach to Super Bowl advertising also has changed over the decades, Yelkur said. Advertisements from the 1960s and '70s were longer than their modern counterparts, often featuring people discussing the product's benefits in great detail.

“Then the game got so hyped, and people didn't want to hear lectures during commercials anymore,” Yelkur said. “They just wanted to be entertained.”

In the 1980s, more celebrities began appearing in the marketing spots. Commercials featuring children also scored strongly with consumers around that time. By the 1990s, two new trends in Super Bowl advertising strategy emerged that remain a strong formula today: Animals and humor.

“Particularly, when they are paired together, we start to see animals and humor are huge drivers of advertisements,” Yelkur said. “Anheuser-Busch started using the Budweiser frogs, Dalmatians and Clydesdale horses. There was the E-Trade monkey and the Coca-Cola polar bears.”

Yelkur will gather with about a dozen SVSU students this Super Bowl Sunday – as she has since 2014 – to watch the game and its commercials. They will study the ads live and analyze the marketing campaigns' impact on consumers in the days following the game, looking for trends that could define future generations of Super Bowl advertising.

“It's fascinating,” Yelkur said of the way Super Bowl advertising has grown into its own institution. “In many ways, it dominates the scene for businesses. It's exciting to see what they bring, year after year.”

Along with her late research colleague Chuck Tomkovick, Yelkur's work has been published in leading scholarly journals and has been cited widely in popular media, including Advertising Age, CNN Money, The New York Times, USA Today‌, and The Wall Street Journal.


EXTRA: Click here to read about Yelkur's plans to analyze Super Bowl 50's advertisements using an SVSU focus group.

February 3, 2016

SVSU welcomes author Julie Iromuanya for reading series

Writer Julie Iromuanya will speak at Saginaw Valley State University as part of the school's “Voices in the Valley” reading series Monday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. in SVSU's Founders Hall. This event is free and open to the public.

Iromuanya is the author of “Mr. and Mrs. Doctor,” an award-winning novel. The book was selected for the 2016 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Debut Fiction Longlist and 2015 National Book Critics' Circle John Leonard Debut Fiction Award Longlist; it also was named to the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Best of 2015,” and the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Critics' Choice for 2015.

Born and raised in the American Midwest, Iromuanya is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants. Her creative writing has appeared in “The Kenyon Review,” “Passages North,” the “Cream City Review,” and the “Tampa Review,” among other journals. Iromuanya’s scholarly-critical work most recently appears in “Converging Identities: Blackness in the Modern Diaspora.”

An assistant professor of English and Africana literature at the University of Arizona, Iromuanya teaches in the creative writing M.F.A. program. She previously served on the faculty at the University of Dayton, the University of Tampa and Northeastern Illinois University, and she taught for seven summers at the Johns Hopkins University, Center for Talented Youth, both in the U.S. and in Hong Kong.

Iromuanya completed a bachelor’s degree at the University of Central Florida, and a master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she was a Presidential Fellow and award-winning teacher.

February 3, 2016

SVSU's Berry honored as outstanding educator by regional athletic training organization

Saginaw Valley State University's David Berry, professor of kinesiology, recently was named the 2016 Outstanding Educator award recipient by the Great Lakes Athletic Training Association. The award recognizes educators for their work both with students and professionals.

“It's always an honor to be identified by students, peers and colleagues as someone who can impact students' and professionals' growth and development as well,” Berry said.

The Great Lakes Athletic Training Association is one of 10 districts that constitute the National Athletic Trainers Association, a professional organization of athletic trainers. The regional district encompasses Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

One of his former students, Rachel Katch, nominated Berry for the Outstanding Educator award.

“He realizes your potential and does not, and will not, stop pushing you until he feels you have reached it,” Katch said.

A St. Charles native who earned a bachelor's degree in athletic training in 2014, Katch today‌ is pursuing a master's degree in kinesiology at the University of Connecticut. She wrote the following in a letter recommending Berry for the award:

“Even now, with me having moved 800 miles away to pursue my graduate degree, we still keep in contact and he still encourages me to shoot for the stars. He is a great influence and mentor to look up to. He will constantly push you to be successful not because he finds amusement in adding stress to your life, but because he knows what you can accomplish, and that you can be more than just an average student.”

Berry is active with a number of athletic training associations, providing presentations at a number of conferences. He also has empowered over 40 students to make oral or poster presentations at various conferences over the last five years.

Berry is no stranger to awards. He was named 2015 Distinguished Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Michigan Athletic Trainers Society as well as 2015 Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer by the National Athletic Trainers Association.

Both awards recognize individuals who demonstrate commitment to leadership, volunteer service, advocacy and professional activities as an athletic trainer.

February 1, 2016

SVSU hosting leading speakers and other events for Black History Month

Saginaw Valley State University will feature workshops, guest speakers, cultural celebrations and other events as part of Black History Month.  

Highlighting the activities will be a presentation by Jasmine Rand, the civil rights attorney best known for her representation of the Trayvon Martin family. She will speak Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. Rand has been recognized by the National Bar Association as one of the Nation’s Best Advocates Top 40 Lawyers Under 40 in the United States, and by the Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under Law with a national Distinguished Civil Rights Advocate Award.

Rand has also been featured as a legal analyst on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. She is speaking at Delta College earlier in the day.

The following night, SVSU will host “An Evening with Lorenzo Pierson.” The SVSU alumnus provides mentorship programs for the youth of the Saginaw County as the the founder of Youth Empowerment Solution.  

Pierson also is a top-selling author, speaker, and advocate of public education and reform. He has authored seven books in the last three years, including “Someone to Look up To” and “Standing Strong Amongst the Storm.”  His presentation will take place Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

On Thursday‌, Feb. 4, SVSU will host a discussion on the book “Between the World and Me” by author Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Led by Chey Davis, associate professor of English at Delta College, the discussion will be held in the Roberta Allen Reading Room of SVSU’s Zahnow Library.

SVSU will welcome Stephanie Dawkins-Davis, a United States Magistrate Judge in Flint. She will speak Wednesday‌, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

The SVSU community and the general public will be invited to sample traditional “soul food” during SVSU’s annual Taste of Soul event Wednesday‌, Feb. 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Marketplace at Doan cafeteria.

An SVSU professor of English and leading scholar of 19th century African-American literature will share his research and observations during a presentation Tuesday‌, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in Founders Hall. Eric Gardner recently authored the book “Black Print Unbound,” which explores the development of the Christian Recorder during and just after the American Civil War.

Professional actor Marvin Jefferson will present his first-person historical characterization of the late Martin Luther King Jr. during a performance Thursday‌, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. in SVSU’s Curtiss Hall Banquet Rooms.

In addition, the display “African-Americans in Academics” will be showcased in the Roberta Allen Reading Room of SVSU’s  Zahnow Library throughout the entire month of February. The exhibition highlights African-American faculty and staff and their contributions within various fields of higher education.

The SVSU offices of Multicultural Services and Diversity Programs are sponsoring most events for Black History Month. For more information, please call 989-964-4068.

January 29, 2016

SVSU profs to use Braun Fellowship fund to study diet and exercise of pregnant women, drugs used for diabetes

Two Saginaw Valley State University faculty members will study common health issues through support from SVSU’s Braun Fellowship.

Meghan Baruth, assistant professor of health sciences, will research behavioral intervention programs aimed at improving the diet and exercise of pregnant women. Jennifer Chaytor, assistant professor of chemistry, will study and modify drugs used to fight Type 2 diabetes.

Through SVSU's Braun Fellowship, Baruth and Chaytor will each receive research support grants totaling up to $37,500 over the next three years to further their scholarly and professional activities. Funds may be used for research expenses, equipment, travel and/or other related support.

As part of her research, Baruth plans to publish research papers on a pilot behavioral intervention program aimed at improving the diet and exercise of pregnant women. She also plans to present those findings at national conferences, attend a grant-writing workshop by the National Institutes of Health, and pursue grants that would help expand on her findings. The initiative also will involve research opportunities for undergraduate students.

Baruth joined SVSU’s health sciences faculty in 2013. She completed a Ph.D. in exercise science at the University of South Carolina; a master’s degree in exercise science from North Dakota State University; and a bachelor’s degree in community health from Bemidji State University in Minnesota. She also worked as a post-doctoral fellow at University of South Carolina.

Chaytor plans to task undergraduates with helping her study drugs used to fight Type 2 diabetes. The research will involve synthesizing and evaluating compounds based on structures of drugs already on the market while investigating modifications that could more effectively combat Type 2 diabetes. Chaytor said she and her students plan to submit research papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals and present at national conferences.

Chaytor joined SVSU’s chemistry faculty in 2012. She earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Ontario; and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. Chaytor also worked as a post-doctoral fellow at University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta.

Established in 2005, the Braun Fellowship program was created through a $1.5 million endowment from the Saginaw-based Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation.  Administered by the Saginaw Community Foundation, the program's purpose is to recognize the exceptional accomplishments and potential of select SVSU faculty and staff.  It is named in honor of Ruth and Ted Braun of Saginaw.

January 28, 2016

SVSU club hockey team plans community skating event at Saginaw’s Hoyt Park

The Saginaw Valley State University club hockey team will take part in a community engagement event Saturday, Jan. 30 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Hoyt Park near the corner of South Washington and Ezra Rust in downtown Saginaw.  

The public can meet with the team during the event hosted by the non-profit organizations Positive Results Downtown Saginaw and Friends of Hoyt Park.  

The event is part of the Bringing Back The Ice Again At Hoyt Park event series, which was initiated after city leaders reestablished Hoyt Park’s ice rink in 2012 following a 10-year absence.  

While SVSU’s team will be at the event from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., the warming house will be open – with free hot chocolate and cookies – from noon to 4 p.m.

Anyone can come out to skate with the team. Tyler Myers, an SVSU exercise science major from Saginaw and one of the players involved, expects the event will be especially fun for children.

"They put a net up and sometimes the little guys will get to shoot on us," he said. "Everyone has a good time. It's something that is good and I know we really enjoy it, too".

Positive Results Downtown Saginaw, previously known as Pride in Saginaw, develops and promotes downtown Saginaw. Friends of Hoyt Park was established to support the park.


January 27, 2016

SVSU and Dow showcase new mobile lab designed to boost STEM education

Saginaw Valley State University and The Dow Chemical Company leaders unveiled a new mobile research laboratory during a ceremony at SVSU Wednesday‌, Jan. 27.

The mobile lab is a large recreational vehicle outfitted with scientific equipment to travel to K-12 schools in Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond to introduce students to hands-on learning opportunities, and ultimately increase interest in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math). It also will travel to various locations as part of research activities for SVSU students and faculty and K-12 students and teachers involved in the Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center at SVSU.

SVSU purchased the lab as part of the Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center, which was established thanks to a gift from The Dow Chemical Company Foundation.

“We are very grateful to Dow for their generous support, and we share their goal of increasing opportunities for students to pursue careers in STEM,” said Deborah Huntley, SVSU provost and a former research chemist. “This sort of community engagement empowers our students and faculty to pursue ambitious research and learning endeavors, while collaborating with our corporate and educational partners to inspire the next generation.”

The mobile lab is equipped with scientific instruments selected to allow K-12 students to analyze soil and water samples collected in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. It also will provide for the study of alternative energy.

“The mobile lab is an innovative approach to bring science directly to the students and get them excited about learning,” said Rich Wells, Dow vice president and site leader Michigan Operations. “Dow understands how crucial it is to improve access to science, technology, engineering and math education for all students, and to help them see the opportunities that STEM skills can provide.”

Students in teacher Craig Coopersmith’s science class at White Pine Middle School in Saginaw Township were invited to the ceremony and the first to tour the mobile lab and use the instruments.

SVSU expects to begin making school visits with the mobile lab later this year. Those interested in arranging a visit should contact David Karpovich, H.H. Dow Endowed Chair in Chemistry and director of the Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center at 989-964-4349 or‌.

SVSU faculty and staff designed the lab in cooperation with Farber Specialty Vehicles in Columbus, Ohio, who built the vehicle.
The Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center at SVSU was established to enhance STEM education in the Great Lakes Bay Region at all levels. It features a unique summer internship research program that promotes collaboration between high school students, teachers, SVSU students and SVSU faculty mentors. The Center also aims to engage the broader community with its mobile science lab, through which citizens will have opportunities to participate in scientific studies of the Saginaw Bay Watershed as well as green chemistry, biodiversity, and alternate energy. 

January 26, 2016

SVSU students fare well in national moot court tournament

Four Saginaw Valley State University students competed in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association national tournament hosted by California State University, Long Beach on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 15-16.
Two teams of two SVSU students competed in the tournament. The team of Mark Babcock and Billie Deshone won three rounds to advance to the second day of the tournament. They were eliminated by a team from the U.S. Air Force, ranked No. 9 nationally going into the tournament.

Babcock is a Saginaw resident who graduated in May 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is enrolled in additional courses. DeShone is a history major from Saginaw.

The other team featured students Rachel Cahill, a political science major from Niagara Falls, Ontario; and Rob Mass, an economics major from Howell. The pair defeated the team ranked No. 1 going into the tournament from the University of North Texas before being eliminated during the tournament’s first day. This marked the second consecutive year Cahill has competed in the national tournament.

The four qualified for nationals by virtue of their strong performances at the American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s Great Lakes Regional moot court tournament at SVSU Nov. 13-14.

In a moot court competition, students act as attorneys in teams of two. They make arguments to a panel of judges by drawing from constitutional law and Supreme Court cases. Judges then decide winners based on public speaking ability, knowledge of cases and of law, and the ability to answer questions.

SVSU’s undergraduate program ranks No. 20 overall in the national rankings and earned a No. 17 finish for the 2014-15 academic year. Formed in 2010, the relatively young program has quickly climbed ahead of highly regarded schools such as Duke University and the University of Chicago.

January 26, 2016

SVSU, Dow to dedicate mobile science lab

Saginaw Valley State University and The Dow Chemical Company will officially dedicate and publicly unveil a mobile science laboratory during a brief ceremony Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 10:30 a.m. in SVSU’s Ryder Center.

A large RV has been outfitted with scientific instruments to conduct water quality testing and other research. Operated through the Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center at SVSU, the lab will travel to K-12 schools in the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond to stimulate interest in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math).

A visiting class of science students from White Pine Middle School in Saginaw Township will attend the event and have the opportunity to be the first K-12 students to utilize the mobile lab.

January 19, 2016

SVSU student team wins national sportsmanship award

Saginaw Valley State University was represented by 14 members of its Sigma Pi fraternity chapter in the NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation National Flag Football Championships in Pensacola, Florida January 2 - 4. The team, Theta-Beta, was selected to receive the Sportsmanship Award for the men's collegiate league.  

Brandon Baber, a secondary education major from Mayville, was one of the participating players. He said playing in the tournament was a great opportunity to represent SVSU.

“We got to meet guys from all over and talk to them about their schools and tell them about ours,” he said.

While the SVSU team lost both games it played, the team showed excellent sportsmanship throughout. Baber said the award was a great honor, and a good representation of what SVSU “is all about.”

“We're very proud to have received the award,” he said. “I remember our second game against Valdosta State, when the whole time we were just talking and joking with them. It was fun to show what SVSU is all about and to spread the fun of sports.”

Baber was joined by 13 teammates, all from Michigan. They were:

•    Tyler Anglebrandt, and exercise science major from Lexington
•    Thomas Barz, a communications major rom East China Township
•    Devin Brown, a nursing major from Warren
•    Jacob Camilleri, a physical education major from Flat Rock
•    Zachary Chehowski, an athletic training major from Coldwater
•    Justin Cusumano, an engineering major from Richmond
•    William Eisiminger, a marketing major from Canton
•    Jacob Goley, a nursing major from Troy
•    Sullivan Goodman, a mechanical engineering major from Wyoming
•    Marshall Mitchell, an engineering major from Clinton Township
•    Daniel Pagel, a special education major from Chesterfield
•    Clinton Shope, a music major from Owendale
•    Aaron Watts, a health science major from Linwood 

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