It Appears that ‘Super Bowl’ is Actually Spelled with a ♀
Last year, in the shadow of #metoo, there were fewer sexualized ads during the Super Bowl. Let’s be honest, though, fewer boobs and burgers doesn’t equal grand enlightenment via Super Bowl advertising and women. And in fact, no beer bimbos just ended up meaning no women at all. In fact, according to AdAge, 61 of the leading roles in 2018 Super Bowl advertisements were bestowed upon men compared to just 23 for female actors. And, sadly, that’s nearly unchanged from previous years.
Super Bowl Adverting and Women: Why Should Brands Care?
A LOT of women watch the Super Bowl. Last year saw the worst overall viewership numbers in nearly a decade and yet women were still 49% of the 108 million who tuned in. With a sinking viewership there isn’t a lot of room for alienating or marginalizing half the viewing audience. And when you consider that women generally are head of household; 50 million starts to look really interesting to advertisers. In fact, that number is more than the female viewership of the Emmys, Grammys and Oscars combined. So maybe that’s why the very tired Carl’s Junior marketing tune has turned from Paris Hilton to Celeste Barber (we recommend you check out Celeste...)
So while we put up with being objectified and generally took the commercial breaks as an opportunity to fill up our wine glasses, empty our bladders and grab a few Pringles, there may be reason to stick around for this years ads. And it’s not just cute puppies and kumbaya…
What can Women Expect from This Year’s Super Bowl Ads
According to sports marketing agency Taylor (who conducted a study of NFL female sports fans), women are actually 45% of NFL fans so they actually PAY ATTENTION to the Super Bowl (shocker). So expect this recognition to help welcome in a new batch of female-focused advertisers this year, such as Olay and dating app Bumble.
Here are a Few We’ll Be Watching For (and One we Won’t)
Going Right for the Misogynistic Jugular: She Plays Football Too
Talking about a Super Bowl advertising and women ‘hail Mary’ – Toyota knows who rules the wold (GIRLS!). As part of Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid launch, the company is featuring superstar college football player Toni Harris. Harris wants to play in the NFL someday and we are all going to help cheer her on.
Harris is one of the very few female (non-kickers) to play on a college football team. Why was this year right for Toyota to be so bold? Well after Nike took it all the way to the bank by putting Colin Kaepernick front and center, there is proof that what is right is good and what is good is right.
You Had Us at Sex & The City
The most powerful subset of head of householders right now are GenXers. According to the Department of Labor, GenX outspends every generation in total household spending – despite being the third largest generation (behind Boomers and Millennials). So what does that mean? For starters, Sarah Jessica Freaking Parker chatting it up with Jeff Bridges (sounding very ‘Big Lebowski’ in his teasing fo the ad).
Sarah is looking pretty hot in the Stella Artois ad. She’s 53 years old and opting for a beer instead of a Manhattan in the ad. So we know where they are going with this one….a Super Bowl advertising and women trip to the bank.
And Then There is Buffy…
Rounding out the target female demographic and reaching a bit to the younger end (not by much) is the first-time Super Bowl advertiser Olay. With a fantastic play on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and great pokes with role reversals, Olay has teased with a fun set of ad trailers to promote.
It’s a smart move and well-timed investment for the brand to be a part of the game this year.
But, Cry Baby?
A Super Bowl advertising and women win for P&G in Olay but big fail for its Gillette brand. They unfortunately now lead the ‘we tried to be woke’ and failed terribly category. The brand’s ‘toxic masculinity’ ‘We Believe’ ad garnered a whole lot of negative attention weeks even before the game. The ad purported to be a bold statement about being a man ripe for the age of #metoo. And yet, it sucked. It faltered and stumbled in spectacular fashion. The ad is so bad that P&G has decided not to air it during the Super Bowl. Here’s why:
1. If the issue of ‘toxic masculinity’ was so easy to sum up in an 3-second ad, then there would never have been a Miramax
Come on now, really? Gillette has it all figured out and tied up with commercial string? The deep underbelly of toxic masculinity is not something any of us want to be lectured to about by a razor blade company. It’s complex and incredibly exploitative to use men behaving badly as a narrative to sell product.
2. Didn’t we learn anything from Nixon
One lesson every good marketing communications person knows is to never repeat the negative. Nixon went on television to say ‘I am not a crook’ and that was what we remember. Repeating, speaking, emphasizing the negative in the lead up to a positive never works. So a cringe-worthy display of sickly ‘we suck and we know it’ from a male-focused brand has eradicated any chance of a good message following.
3. Over here guys…
And to end, as we started, women hold the purse strings. Women watch the Super Bowl. We buy the food, we buy the razors, the toothpaste and the beer. Women decide which car is safest and have the last say. It could have been so much more provocative to create a commercial about a men’s product from the perspective of the women buying it. But talking in a patronizing way, like, ‘it’s okay ladies, we’ll try so much harder’ is so bad we are glad P&G pulled the ad (although the message on the microsite and charitable piece is commendable).
The least they could do is man up and not blame pulling the ad because of ‘cost.’ See you at half time.