The Super Bowl season for ad purchases got off to a sluggish start due to pandemic uncertainty about the schedule and the public mood. Purchasing has accelerated recently as brands realized that the sports-watching audience are still very active. After making the decision to go all-in for the Super Bowl despite initial reluctance, there are still important decisions brands must face, especially when it comes to creative messaging.
Last year we saw the tide change: most of the deaf-mute and sexist ads disappeared from the Super Bowl roster and were replaced with ads that put women in a more honorable position – like Olay's spatial, all-female ads that the 2019 replicated spacewalk only for women. The change we saw wasn't necessarily that these brands are advocating for gender equality. They were just being pragmatic and realized that women are their main customers and they should start putting them in leadership roles in their ads.
Super Bowl Marketers: Don't Forget Women
Almost half of the Super Bowl viewers are women, and that number is only rising as we watch football from the couch against the stadium. Look at last year's halftime show; The internet was on fire with women admiring the strength and agility of Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, ages 40+. This year's halftime artist is The Weeknd, who is reportedly more popular with women than men.
It seems that we are now in an era of empowerment and awareness of women, more than that of objectification. If you objectify women in your ads, you run the risk of alienating a significant number of viewers. And buyers too. It is estimated that women control up to 85% of household decisions. You are the chief household officer and decide which brands of toothpaste and cleaning products to buy. They also control higher ticket items like expensive tech products and new cars.
Brands dedicated to the Super Bowl include Mars Wrigley / M & Ms, WeatherTech, TurboTax, Mountain Dew, and Toyota. This year, I wonder if we will find out if Super Bowl ads are gender specific or if they show racial diversity – another problem that has increased awareness and consideration given the events of 2020.
How will brands meet people where they will be on February 7, 2021? Given the speed at which our environment is changing from health to policy, there is no sure way of knowing what will be in and in our heads that day. We'll likely be ordering food, clothing, electronics, and even alcohol online. Will Drizly show up? Maybe Walmart and Comcast's joint new TV will get some airtime. Given that people are more into the craft and home organization sectors, I wouldn't be surprised if Home Depot or The Container Store aired a spot.
Compensate for lost sales
Given that Frito-Lay has pledged three ads for its snack brands, it's also clear that many companies will try to make up for lost sales from 2020 onwards. For example, the return on sales of the parent company PepsiCo suffered massively from the closure of restaurants and stadiums.Therefore, sales for snacks and packaged food must be increased, hence the focus on Doritos 3D Crunch (from the 90s) and the new Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix. If you're stuck at home, the most exciting part of your day may be getting a new snack.
This is also a time when brands in the really hard hit industries have to decide how much they will be wrong on the optimistic side. Will we see airlines promote new policies like fees without change? U.S. auto ad spend hit a 30-year low, falling 18% in 2020. Will automakers say enough is enough – are we advertising now to get rid of last year's models and promote them for 2021?