We have all witnessed over the years how the Super Bowl ads have been talked up as much or more than the game itself. From the adorable little boy who gives Mean Joe Green his Coke, to the secret production of commercials to be revealed during the game, to the unequaled cost of a :30 spot.
But the past few years have been less than disappointing with this year offering the worst. I love how Paul Venables put it in his AdWeek article, “If we don’t start anew, the unthinkable will happen. People will tune in on Super Bowl Sunday for a football game.”
I, for one, am actually a pretty big football fan, so I have always watched for the game, but being in the industry, it has certainly been fun to anticipate and grade the ads. I have even participated in an official judging capacity on a local level and over time, I have heard non-football advocates, both men and women say, “Oh, I watch strictly for the ads.”
So it has been most interesting to see the focus on how offensive or non-connecting the spots have been to women this year. In the world of Twitter, blogging and ad industry online publications there has been a lot of debate. Male creatives feel women should accept that the Super Bowl is a “man’s game”, women argue that they are the ones purchasing most of the products being sold and I am left wondering who in the world are these people making these multi-million dollar decisions? But I think big businesses that have been in the news asking for billion dollar bail-outs might help make some sense of these irresponsible moves.
Approximately 40 million (40%-45%) of the Super Bowl viewers were women, yet as Kristi Faulkner said in her AdWeek article, “In fact, women, for all intents and purposes, were ignored.”
How can this be? Women control 85 percent of all brand purchases with the $7 trillion dollars they spend annually. How is this market purposely and creatively ignored? How does a company, during these incredibly difficult times, justify knowingly risk offending even a small segment of their audience, much less 85 percent?!
I can tell you how it happens. Ninety-seven percent of all creative directors are men. And close to that is the percent of men making the final decisions on what and where to run. But I believe that recent news has revealed that just because the big companies do it, doesn’t make it right. Judge for yourselves. Maybe you missed them during the game. For a look at the commercials including the “top winners” you can visit AdBlitz.
Men can continue to argue that women should not be watching the game if they don’t like it or that they should “lighten up” and “get” a sense of humor, but they may as well be standing right there with them in the store and telling them how stupid they are for not purchasing their brand.
For those of you who decidedly step out and make a concerted effort to reach and appeal to women, trust me, you will move ahead of your competition. You don’t have to give up humor and creativity. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t.
Please forgive my boldness here, but some of you simply need to wake up. And it begins with knowing who your market is. Once you are convinced, don’t allow the “guys” who create your advertising to convince you that because you like it, that you have hit the mark. And don’t be fooled when they tell you that they have run it by the junior female account manager who is most likely fearful of losing her job. These men are typically the creatives building their portfolio that other men will view or they are seeking an award that other men will judge.
You have opportunity to be a leader here. The road is definitely less traveled, but the rewards will be plentiful. Learn to understand women and may the best man win.
Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email
Filed under: Advertising during recession, Advertising to Women During Recession, Effects of recession, Examples of Bad/Good Advertising, Marketing to Single Women, Marketing to Women, Targeting Women