Normally the domain of pizza, auto, razor and beer ads often punctuated with bawdy jokes, the Super Bowl seems to finally be getting in touch with its feminine side. Unilever, for one, is using it as a platform to run its Dove "Real Beauty" spots and Anheuser-Busch is on record as saying it plans to take female beer drinkers into account while it's selecting big-game spots this year. Moreover, about half the 89 million viewers expected to tune in are women.
Missing the market
The change can't come fast enough for the Marketing to Moms Coalition, which said 80% of female Super Bowl fans feel advertisers haven't targeted them in the past. Maria Bailey, CEO of BSM Media and a member of the coalition, said its recent survey of 256 moms is intended to show marketers that "if they are spending millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads and not making them relevant to women, they're missing half their market."
ESPN Research, in fact, shows last year's Super Bowl audience was 56% male and 44% female, 40% of whom had kids 18 and under in the house. Judging from the broader category span in this year's game, which includes everything from antibacterial soaps and Aleve to nuts and life insurance, "media people are starting to see that [the Super Bowl] is a media vehicle that transcends just men," said Ed Erhardt, president-ad sales and customer marketing for ESPN and ABC Sports.
Mr. Erhardt said that, "As the property continues to be seen as a social event, advertisers are clearly using it to reach a wide variety of audiences," especially, he said, as the game offers an increasingly rare opportunity to send out a "big message in a big environment."
Unilever chose to run its "Real Beauty" campaign on the Bowl not just because of that mass audience, but also because it reasoned the spot would stand out in testosterone-filled commercial pods. Philippe Harousseau, North American marketing director for Dove, the push for women's self-esteem is "not what most people will be expecting on Super Bowl Sunday."
That surprise factor also was a motivator for Estee Lauder Co.'s Aveda. Although not an advertiser in the game itself, Aveda will sample its new refillable compact and makeup as well as shampoo and body products at events surrounding the Super Bowl in Detroit. The effort will be among the first in a series of strategic sports tie-ins for Aveda over the next five years, many of which will include the promotion of recycling at sports venues.
The reason, according to Chris Molinari, VP-global communications for Aveda (herself an avid sports fan) is that "sports have a universal appeal and women are getting more and more interested because it combines the best of entertainment, health, fitness and wellness." Not to mention the first-mover advantage: "When you're hit in an unusual venue with a product, it's more memorable. Certainly people would take note more of a compact than a cap giveaway at a sporting event."
Even longtime Super Bowl advertisers and those for whom sports have been a mainstay seem to be increasingly recognizing female viewers-and consumers-this year. Anheuser-Busch VP-brand management Marlene Coulis has been vocal in her desire to turn her back on past Super Bowl ads that have been called sexist by the National Organization for Women, and instead try to appeal to women who make up 20% of its beer drinkers.
Car marketers, too, may be realizing Super Bowl is more than just a venue for tough trucks. Cadillac, for example, will launch its redone Escalade SUV with creative featuring it on a model's runway.