Brands Use the Bowl to Broaden Their Appeal

Marketers That Normally Target Narrow Audiences Aim for Both Genders

By Published on .

NEW YORK ( -- With niche cable channels, websites and social networks sprouting up regularly, advertisers can target their consumers with more precision than ever before. But that strategy doesn't necessarily play when 93 million viewers -- Nielsen's measurement of last year's audience -- are making their eyes available for ads all at the same time.
Super Bowl advertising is "less about the relevance of a message but more about the entertainment quotient," said Devika Bulchandani, exec VP-director of strategic planning at the New York office of McCann Erickson. During the Super Bowl, she said, marketers "aren't selling a product; they are creating brand buzz."

A number of advertisers slated to appear in this year's contest normally would aim for narrower slices of American consumers. Victoria's Secret makes clothes for women, who also have been the main target consumer for Procter & Gamble's Tide to Go and Unilever's Sunsilk. Kraft Foods' Planters, meanwhile, runs ads aimed squarely at men.

But for this time of year, the Super Bowl could turn out to be a smart buy for the sassy lingerie purveyor. Valentine's Day is near, and the aim is to keep the Limited Brands unit top of mind for men and women.

"The only time we target men and women would be around holiday time and Valentine's Day, so the rest of the year, we're much more targeted [toward] women," said Jill Beraud, chief marketing officer of Victoria's Secret. "The fact that this is probably the highest-viewed dual-audience vehicle is actually perfect."

Break with tradition
P&G, meanwhile, sees an opportunity to grow Tide to Go's audience by reaching more men, said Kash Shaikh, a spokesman for Procter's fabric-care division. "We are using this as one of our first steps of taking Tide to Go outside of traditional demographics," he said, noting that women were the product's heaviest users, but the consumer base is expanding.

Unilever will run a flashy ad for its Sunsilk hair-care products featuring images of Madonna, Shakira and Marilyn Monroe. Sounds pretty girly -- and deliberately so, said Heather Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the consumer-products company. The Super Bowl "is also the biggest stage of where most of our targeted viewers will be," she said, and the hope is that men will be entertained by the ad as well.

Kraft plans no such feminine wiles for Planters. Rather than focus on people who like to eat nuts, a $3 billion category, Kraft figured it would fare better by talking to people who like salty snacks, a $20 billion category, said Allan Lindsay, senior director-marketing for salty snacks at Kraft.

Men are the main focus of the ad, but women won't be left out, said Sandy Greenberg, exec VP-executive creative director at DraftFCB, New York. The Planters ad features an oddball female character. "As you get to know her, hopefully she will appeal to women and men," Ms. Greenberg said. "You want to root for her."
Most Popular
In this article: