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Advertisers Continue to Miss the Mark With Women

by Gerry Myers  |  
February 13, 2007
  |  8,149 views

While I think the Super Bowl is an excellent venue to reach both men and women, spending $2.6 million to reach only half the audience seems ridiculous to me. But that is what a lot of companies did when they created their ads for Super Bowl XLI.

I find that many men watch the big game and see the commercials, while women often watch the commercials and see the game.

Let's review. Women make 80 percent of all purchases. They buy more electronic equipment, vehicles, and home-improvement products than men do. Women hold nearly 50 percent of all jobs, and in dual income families more than 30 percent out-earn their husbands. They control considerable sums of money and spend it for a variety of products, services, investments, and household expenditures.

Nevertheless, many advertisers not only create ads that will appeal only to men but also insist on showcasing ones that will actually turn women off.

While many of my articles cite statistical data, experts, and research studies, this one is based solely on my reaction, as a woman, to the commercials I saw during the Super Bowl. My disclaimer for this article is that I am not an ad critic by profession and don't profess to be. Still, knowing what women want and like is my business. I do understand what appeals to women, what will lose the sale with women, and what is OK but not great.


I'll start with my least favorite ad series of the day. Without a doubt, it was CareerBuilder.com's. The company had one bad ad after another, appealing to a narrow segment of young men who prefer slapstick humor to any substance. The ads were noisy, stupid, and graphically displeasing to me... and I'm sure to many women viewers. When I went to the Web site, it had many job listings in which women would be interested—from nurses and HR positions to less traditional ones in automotive or sales. So why not try to reach more people? After all, it spent up to $2.6 million per ad, and ran several, all of them very similar.

Chevy ran the gamut of ads, but managed to completely alienate me with its Car Wash ad. I realize this was created by a college student, but it was the one Chevrolet selected. I'm sure men related to it, but what about the other 51 percent of the population? In it, the men partially disrobe, flock around a car full of young women, and proceeded to wash it. It ends with "Guys can't keep their hands off it."

I disliked this ad almost as much as a previous Chevy pick-up truck ad insert I saw in Texas Monthly magazine; its readership is more than 50 percent women. The print ad was created by Chevy's agency and was titled Men, Women and the Truck: A Relationship Handbook. Sounds good so far. Then you turn to the first page of stereotyping titles, like "Girls Play with Dolls. Boys Play with Trucks." On the next two pages it proclaims in bold print, "Men Are Born with the Horsepower Gene (Just as Some Women Are Born with the Shoe Gene)."


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Gerry Myers is CEO, president, and cofounder of Advisory Link (www.advisorylink-dfw.com). She is co-author of Leading the Way to Success and specializes in marketing and selling more effectively to women.

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