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Most Super Bowl Ads Aimed at Males; Most Money Spent by Females

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Super Bowl game? Super! The ads? Not so much...

Many advertisers justify their Super Bowl ad spending in such a tough economy by reasoning that spending $3 million dollars for a 30-second spot to reach 100 million viewers is cost effective—only $.03 per person.

However, if the marketing creators had taken into account the diverse viewing audience and fashioned ads that would resonate with them, the ROI would most likely be greater.

Since advertisers seem to miss the mark every year, you have to question the wisdom of many of the more than 40 spots, not counting the movie trailers and network shows.

A few basic thoughts advertisers should consider for the 2010 Super Bowl:

  • Who watches the Super Bowl? Approximately 100 million viewers, with more than 40 percent of them women.
  • Who spends the most money as a consumer? Women spend approximately 85 percent; men spend only 15 percent.
  • Who focuses more on the game—and who on the commercials? Though many women love football, and a lot of men enjoy seeing the new commercials, women focus more on the commercials... and men more on the game.


The 2009 Super Bowl commercials were far below my expectations.

Most were extremely male-oriented, and many for only a young demographic. Few women were used in the commercials—and when they were, such as Danica Patrick, they portrayed sex rather than substance. Both GoDaddy.com commercials were on my worse-commercial spots list for their blatant sexism and unoriginal ideas.

Another I found just plain mean was the Teleflora "rude" spot, depicting flowers received by a female office worker that insulted her in front of her coworkers.

The CareerBuilders.com and Monster.Com ads were adequate, but most were not particularly memorable. The "moose" ad did have a touch of humor at the end, and many might have seen the mockery of the elegance in the CEO's office versus the dreary worker's cubicle as a sign of the times.

Most of the commercial spots were ordinary and not worth the $3 million price. There was a lot of violence, slapstick, and male-oriented humor and themes. Not a lot of creative dialogue, intriguing story lines, or visually interesting graphics.

Women, the major consumers and heavy viewers of Super Bowl ads, saw a few entertaining spots, but many more were offensive.

The "potato head" Bridgestone ad was creative and had a comical twist at the end, even though it slightly stereotyped women as backseat drivers.

As usual, Budweiser and Bud Light, which aired seven ads, had some very good ones, and some that fell short. The first-quarter ad "office meeting" in which the young exec was tossed out the window, left me cold. I thought the "horse love" ad with Daisy was appealing. The "ancestry" ad showed a bit of history of the country, which I liked. The "Conan" ad was interesting, but was probably there to promote his taking over the primetime late night spot from Jay Leno, as much as the beer. The "fetch" ad was entertaining, fun and I really liked it. The "skier" ad was just OK. Everyone loves the Clydesdales, and the company does a good job of featuring them.

I was disappointed in both Doritos ads. The "ATM" ad in which each bite produced an incredible result, including undressing a woman walking by, was not funny; it was offensive. In the "crystal ball" ad, the office worker threw the ball and broke the glass on the vending machine to get free chips. This ad will definitely appeal to a segment of the population. I, however, don't find these types of activities humorous.

The limited automotive ads of Hyundai, Audi, and Toyota were all very male-dominated. But the Cars.com "doctor" scenario had an interesting story that held my attention wondering where it was going.

I enjoyed Pepsi's ad, "Forever Young," but didn't find any of the others very memorable. Most of Coca-Cola's ads were equally mediocre. I liked the graphics of the "heist" ad, in which the butterflies mimicked the coke bottle. The picnic was the perfect setting to feature both a man and a woman, but Coke chose to represent only men.

The Cheetos ad "gossip girl," which did feature women, was more inspired and funny and had a good lesson, compared with most others. Others I liked were Denny's "diner," the "NFL"spot with Usama Young of the New Orleans Saints, the Kellogg's "baseball" ad, and the Taco Bell "date" commercial.

In summary: advertisers still don't get it. With a medium that attracted nearly 100 million viewers (the second-largest audience in Super Bowl history), advertisers should have striven to showcase their products by creating attention-grabbing, ingenious, entertaining, or at least appealing commercials, rather than sexist, destructive, violent, and humdrum ones.

Football isn't just a man's spectator sport any more, especially the Super Bowl. The demographics of the viewers are diverse. The advertisers need to consider the entire audience, including singles, families, men in bars, and couples at Super Bowl parties with friends. But one thing is certain: Women aren't taken into consideration enough when the ads are created.

I would love for my annual article on Super Bowl Ads, and on how women view them, to read differently next year, but I doubt that it will.


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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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  • by Stephen Denny Mon Feb 23, 2009 via web

    Gerry:

    I'm confused by what appears to be an Academy Awards criteria for what is clearly marketing content.

    Marketers aren't paid to entertain - they're paid to make sure that more stuff gets sold. Your post may explain how you, personally, *feel* about the creative merits of the ads, but what matters is what *happened* to the incremental sales lift after these ads ran.

    The brands that win in the Super Bowl are the ones that sell more stuff as a result - and GoDaddy.com is a perennial winner. Whether you *like* their ads or not is secondary to the fact that they work: a 110% increase in domain registrations following the Super Bowl pays for a lot of advertising. Sales Genie (last year and the year before) produced ridiculous ads from a creative standpoint (last year they managed to insult both Indians and Chinese viewers - pretty impressive) that were tremendously successful.

    As marketers, let's focus on what matters to marketers: results. GoDaddy.com clearly gets it. Their ads work. Let's all promise to leave the analysis of poignant storytelling to the Hollywood blogs.

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