Advertisers Showed Progress on Gender Balance But Stayed Cautious

Digitas

Advertisers Showed Progress on Gender Balance But Stayed Cautious

Ashley Sanders

These ads defied stereotypes  

Nearly half of this year’s Super Bowl audience was women, as evidenced by NFL female viewership at an all-time high in 2019. Representation in this year’s ads increased significantly, with more LGBTQ-friendly and gender-neutral messaging, but advertisers stayed within the bounds of safe formulas: movie spoofs, nostalgia, and celebrities. 

But this is still progress, especially compared to the past 5 Super Bowls, when male characters had nearly 2.5 times more speaking time compared to female characters, were twice as likely to be presented as leaders, and received 1.5 times the screen time.  

The 3% Movement watched for women, diversity, and brands with a purpose. They rallied ad pros with #3PercentSB at Publicis San Francisco and virtually nationwide to evaluate ads using a two-step test that asked: 

  • Is the cast diverse?
  • Is it defying stereotypes?

We focused on #MediaWeLike for positive, forward-facing ads that passed the test. Here is some of the best #MediaWeLike from Super Bowl Sunday. 

Olay “Make Space for Women”

Olay made an unapologetic statement about the lack of “space” for women using a high-profile, diverse female cast. Olay created the spot with Badger & Winters, a female-owned agency, and will donate up to $500,000 to Girls Who Code as part of the effort. 

TurboTax “All People are Tax People” 

TurboTax united viewers with something we all have in common--taxes. The music video may not be for everyone, but it seamlessly presents women of color and all ages and includes the use of sign language. 

Microsoft “Be the One”

Microsoft highlights the amazing story of Katie Sowers of the San Francisco 49ers, the first female and openly gay coach in the Super Bowl. Even though she wasn’t victorious against the Chiefs, her poignant quote says it all: “these guys have been learning from women their whole lives -- moms, grandmas, teachers--we have all these assumptions in life about what women do and what men do.” 

Budweiser “Typical Americans” 

Budweiser broke their typical Super Bowl formula to show us acts of everyday people doing good. The spot was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the first female director to win an Oscar. 

Pop-Tarts “Pop-Tarts Fixed the Pretzel”

Pop-Tarts’ quirky infomercial starred a leading lady of color and “Queer Eye’s” Jonathan Van Ness. Twitter went wild for the live drop, including the sparkle shirts featured in the spot. 

Audi “Let it Go” 

Audi breaks the typical auto formula with young female lead Maisie Williams and Disney’s “Frozen” soundtrack in a message targeted toward electric vehicles and climate change. 

Pepsi “Zero Sugar Done Right”

Pepsi’s clear shot at Coke was a winner. Rapper Missy Elliott and Grammy-award winner H.E.R. remade the Rolling Stones classic “Paint it Black”, appealing to all ages and genders. 

Honorable Mentions

The Halftime Show

The LatinX pride was undeniable. Equally as touching was Jennifer Lopez’s daughter Emme’s duet on “Born in the USA”. 

Doritos “Cool Ranch” 

Technically, this spot didn’t have female representation but the inclusivity was incredibly relevant. Music superstar Lil Nas X, a black LGBTQ trailblazer, challenging the legendary Sam Elliott to a dance battle is already generating interesting #CoolRanchDance content. 

Secret “The Secret Kicker” 

The Secret pre-game ad starred US soccer players Carli Lloyd and Crystal Dunn and sparked the possibility of women playing in the NFL. It falls in a long line of Secret ads targeted at female social issues.  

McDonald's “Something for Everyone to Love”

McDonald's also opted for a pre-game spot, but really did show us they have something for everyone, highlighting orders from Whoopi Goldberg to Millie Bobby Brown. I’ll have a Sausage McGriddle, please. 

Sources

This article originally featured in The San Francisco Egotist

Ashley Sanders

Ashley Sanders

SVP, Group Account Director

Ashley is the Women @ Digitas and Publicis Viva Women San Francisco lead. 

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