The Super Bowl's Representation Of Women And What It Means For Brands


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Women's Representation In Advertisements Can Impact A Brand

A Super Bowl commercial can arguably be the most powerful 30 seconds a brand can get in advertising, because for once everyone wants to watch. With millions tuning in and plenty of press coverage, these 30 seconds are a brand's chance to define an image for themselves and tell America why they should like them. 

Choosing what to show in your commercial will represent your brand and will tell people what is important to the brand on a larger scheme; this can be anything from loyalty to equality to even humor. When it comes to female representation, it has become a topic of high importance for the success of a brand - after all, most consumer bases are made up of mostly females. In this blog, Hollywood Branded explores the Super Bowl's representation of women during Super Bowl LIII commericals, and what it meant for the brands. 

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It's Time To Re-Consider The Audience 

Although Football is stereotypically referred to as a "man's sport;" more than ever Super Bowl commercials are a highlight to be enjoyed by every gender and age group. In an eye-opening statistic presented by AdWeek, nearly half of Super Bowl viewers are female although only a quarter of advertisements are directed towards women. Another rising statistic to consider is the amount of families that are watching the event. This is no longer the age of Cindy Crawford being ogled as she seductively drinks Pepsi.

This past Super Bowl, the exposure and lead roles females took in advertisements increased slightly from last year and did receive press attention. These weren't just conventionally sexy, super model-esque roles either, Super Bowl LIII featured moving stories and refreshing recognition. 

Bumble Caused All The Buzz

Let's start with Serena William's Bumble commercial which was all for female empowerment while promoting the self proclaimed feminist dating/friendship app, Bumble. Arguably one of the most influential women in sports, Serena tells the audience while on the court, "Don't wait to be told your place... take it, don't wait for people to find you. Find them. In love. In life." She addresses a larger issue at hand, females being told from a young age to politely wait. Watch the video here. 

This video not only gave Bumble massive exposure, but received hundreds of thumbs up on Youtube, hundreds of positive comments from both genders, and scored the perfect powerful woman to represent the app. This also effectively helped brand Bumble as a feminist app and gave them a larger name in the dating app industry.


How Far Of A Societal Stance Should A Brand Take?

Historically, the Super Bowl has been called out for both sexist and racist advertising that caters to men. The smart way to easily gain respect for today's modern day audience is to stand out as a brand by doing just the opposite. 

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Toyota Takes On Toni Harris

One commercial that went viral and inspired women to break gender barriers was Toyota's Rav4 Commercial that sponsored Toni Harris, one of the first women to receive a scholarship to play football at a university. This advertisement, similar to Gillette's #DoBetter advertisement, sparked some controversy.

While most felt uplifted, some felt as though Toyota was taking too much of a societal stance for their most featured ad. A percentage of men felt that the ad was trying too hard to appeal to millennials and women. This is even reflected in the ratio of likes to dislikes on the official Youtube video; 1.3k likes, and 672 dislikes. Watch Toni Harris' story below and see what you think.

Advertisements Now Have A Goal Of Sparking Conversation 

The best way to have your brand maintain relevance and stay on the top of a consumer's minds is if it can really drive discussion. In the case of the Toni Harris ad, it can be argued successful with the ideology that "bad press is good press." This essentially means that even if the advertisement was controversial to some, the fact that more people are talking about it could ultimately be the best outcome for Toyota.  

Living in the era of #MeToo and feminism movement, brands hopping on the bandwagon with their advertisements and social media is a great way to be talked about and go viral. Furthermore, even if the goal isn't to go viral, maintaining political correctness will gain a brand respect and following in many millennial consumer audiences.

Trends Arising In Super Bowl LIII

Women took center stage especially in the first half of commercial breaks. As many noticed, the representation was refreshingly modest. Phenomenal female-centric successful commercials were made without a single over-sexualized woman. Among these characters was Christina Applegate playing a frustrated mother with rowdy M&M's in her backseat, and Sarah Michelle Gellar starring in an Olay parody-horror ad where her Face ID wouldn't recognize her because her skin looked so good. 

There's a transition in the Super Bowl to introducing some advertisements that appeal almost specifically just to women: Olay being a prime example. Ten years ago, Olay would've never been featured in the Super Bowl because it is a skin care line traditionally marketed to female audiences.   

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Bon & Viv Spikes Interest

Another example of this was the alcohol commercial that finally wasn't just beer or hard liquor. Bon & Viv spiked seltzer was a comedic nod at the show Shark Tank featuring two mermaids pitching their spiked seltzer to a panel of sharks underwater. In their ad, they mention key phrases like "zero grams of sugar" that traditionally appeal to women.

It's also worth discussing that the concept for underwater mermaids could have easily gone down the route of shell bikinis and excessive cleavage, however Bon & Viv kept the mermaids non-sexual. They were dressed as appropriate young business-mermaids. Watch the ad below.

Positive Women Representation Is On The Rise, Slowly But Surely

As a recap, trends in modesty and female targeted advertising were up this Super Bowl. Exposure as a whole for females was also slightly up from last year, and brands that did use strong female leads were among the most highly talked about commercials. 

Aside from television advertisements, women representation as an integral part of brand marketing has become increasingly relevant to a brand's success. Depending on the brand, taking a socio-political stance could help spark discussion and reach larger audiences. 

For more from Hollywood Branded on related topics, check out more of our blogs!

Want to learn more about rising trends in entertainment marketing so your brand can better understand how to find the most effective way to tap into your audience? Check out our Entertainment Marketing survey results!

Download The 2015 Survey Results