Marketing to Women: Women Watching Super Bowl Too!

February 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

For those in advertising that are spending their Super Bowl money to reach only men, they are missing the wings and nachos boat.  The number of men versus women watching is getting more narrow.  Who is sitting next to the NFL commissioner at the game this year?  Why a little girl from Utah named Sam Gordon — a girl playing in an all-boys tackle football league.

M_BeyonceSuperBowl_101612Last year, 54 percent of the roughly 111 million viewers who tuned in to watch the Packers and Steelers on Fox were men, compared to 46 percent women.  And those women were not just delivering the pizza and chips to the guys in the family room.  They are real fans.

A recent survey by Advertising Age showed that 55 percent of American women watched at least one regular season NFL game last season, and women account for 20 percent of all fantasy football participants. In the last 10 years, the gender gap in the Super Bowl audience has narrowed from 14 percentage points in 2002 to 8 points in 2012. More women are watching the Super Bowl than the Academy Awards!

Since 2004, the NFL has been promoting more family-oriented half-time entertainment and fan attractions.  It’s no surprise that Beyonce is the half-time performer this year.  She appeals to both strong men and women, and she rocks that modern sensibility for young women. It is also not surprising that the first spot coming out of the half-time show was an All American Jeep and USO salute to our military, to our families and to our faith – voiced by Oprah.  As the mother of a deployed Marine, it definitely was my favorite.  My husband said, “Let’s go buy a Jeep.”

So what gives with many of the Super Bowl ads?  Many are sex-driven, testosterone celebrations.  Advertisers are being challenged to find a way to embrace female sexuality without degrading women.   “Especially given the female viewership, advertisers have to be broadly acceptable without being polarizing,” said Tim Calkins, marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

The tasteless award this year may be model Kate Upton in a spot for Mercedes.  In the ad, the model is hand-washing a new Mercedes Benz C-Class in revealing attire for the entire 90 seconds of air-time.

But here’s the interesting dilemma:  More than half of all women polled in a PHD survey reported that Super Bowl advertisements using sex appeal equally targeted both genders. Seventy-four percent of women aged 18 to 34 said they liked the sexy images in the previous year’s Super Bowl advertisements, compared with 84 percent of men in the same age range.  So how do advertisers create the right mix of  female sexuality without the woman being portrayed in a demeaning fashion.

One of the ongoing issues for the advertising community is the lack of female creative directors.  Some estimate that only 3-4 percent of creative directors are female.  Why is that a problem?  Because creative departments start to take on the personality of a frat house.  Women are not fairly represented unless there are strong women in the account management and/or client side.

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