Marketing to Women Winners and Losers in Super Bowl 2017

84 lumber super bowlIf there is one point the Super Bowl made this year, it is the role that politics will now play in how people view advertising.

#Boycott #Buy hashtags popped up all over social media.  Consumers sounded off on why they would no longer buy, start buying, or continue to buy certain brands.

And marketing to women, always tricky, became even more difficult.

Advertisers recognize that a huge portion of the viewing audience for the Super Bowl is women.  In recent years, women have made up approximately 46% of Super Bowl viewers.   And women are also the majority of social media users, meaning they are voicing their reviews of the ads very loudly.

So which ads won and lost with women?   And which were the most controversial?   Not necessarily the ads you think.

Most controversial marketing to women ad – Audi

Yup, Audi.  “The Immigration lens” was the number one political lens driving sentiments on both sides for commercials like Budweiser, Coca Cola, Airbnb, and 84 Lumber.

Audi, however,  featured the issue of women’s equality.  Think that’s not as controversial a topic as The Trump travel ban and immigration?  Check out the number of views and the number of likes and dislikes.  As of this writing there are over 8 million views, over 42,000 thumbs up and over 55,000 thumbs down.

While it looks like the majority of haters were men, there was no shortage of women chiming in and slamming Audi.

These two headlines sum up the two sides:

Audi Super Bowl ad makes a strong pitch for women’s equality.

Audi Feminist 2017 Super Bowl Commercial FAIL

I applaud Audi for taking on the issue.  The visuals were strong, but the copy seemed a bit heavy handed.   Another angle could have been to have the father say, “Daughter….you will face challenges in your life, many challenges, but I believe in you and I will always have your back.”

I believe you can make a case for women’s equality by showing strong girls and women in your ads.  Show the people around them supporting them and their dreams.  The danger with the openly “You are considered less than” messaging is that it opens the door to painting women as victims, and that doesn’t work for either side.

Best Use of Humor

Melissa McCarthy rocked it in this Kia ad.

Interestingly, the ad could be seen as supporting or making fun of her efforts to save the planet.   Kia provided some much needed comic relief.

Tide gets a shout out for their Terry Bradshaw ad and  NOT featuring a woman doing the laundry.

Worst attempt at humor – Yellow Tail.  Seriously?  The super model in a bikini and the stale cliche joke about” pet my roo?”   That’s your idea of creativity?  Also, women are the majority of wine drinkers and vast majority of consumers who purchase wine in grocery stores, which I suspect is where Yellow Tail gets most of their sales.   Not sure how the bikini super model thing appealed to those consumers.

The diversity equals immigration equation

84 Lumber supposedly had so many online viewers it crashed their website. Here is “The Entire Journey.”

There are other versions of this so the YouTube view count is obviously no where near the actual total. But what I found interesting was the much higher numbers of thumbs up vs. thumbs down.

This was a bold and risky move made more interesting by the fact that “the journey” featured a mother and daughter, and the company is a 2nd generation woman-owned company.  It will be very interesting to see what impact the ad has on sales going forward.

Final takeaways

Any attempt at “diversity” is going to be equated with immigration, and from the right’s point of view, “illegal immigration.”

Outright messages of women’s equality, or “lack of equal pay for equal work” from the left’s point of view, is going to generate perhaps even more passion than the immigration issue.

In this divided political climate, it is more important than ever to understand the lens through which female consumers are viewing your ads.

Here are some suggestions on how to navigate marketing to women in the Trump era of politics.

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