Super Bowl commercials are finally showing strong women and it’s about time – Mashable

Will this be the year that Super Bowl ads finally get women right?

The usual trope of unknown women in tiny bikinis has been scrapped in favor of powerful women like grand dame Helen Mirren, tennis superstar Serena Williams, soccer player Abby Wambach, and comedian Amy Schumer.

The brands oft-criticized for objectifying women will be far and few between: GoDaddy already announced it wouldn’t be advertising, and Carl Jr’s — unless it’s planning a surprise ad — will also likely be sitting it out.

Instead, more and more ads this year have a social good undertone: Mini USA encouraged viewers to defy and ignore stereotypes, Mirren warned of the risks of drinking and driving, and Axe will be showing a 30 second spot of its “Find Your Magic” campaign, which, radically, includes a celebration of a man vogueing, Paris is Burning-style.

Advertisers get smarter but not more egalitarian

“I see a dramatic change in how advertisers are looking at this opportunity, and I think they’ve gotten a lot smarter about who’s watching and who’s sharing.” says Kat Gordon, the founder of the 3% conference, which aims to increase the number of women in the top ranks of advertising. “Brands are realizing that women are driving that activity.”

But where ad agencies still aren’t getting it right, industry experts say, is behind the scenes.

According to data compiled by Mashable, the companies making the Super Bowl ads this year still mostly have men as their CEOs and in the chief creative roles.

Out of all of the agencies that have a Super Bowl ad already out or announced for the big game on Sunday, only two have female CEOs: Anomaly New York, which is behind the Mirren Budweiser campaign and the Squarespace campaign, and DDB Chicago, which is responsible for the Skittles ad starring Steven Tyler.

And only one agency has a woman as its top creative officer — that’d be Goodby Silverstein & Partners, which created this year’s Doritos and Marmot campaigns.

TBWA/Chiat/Day, which produced the Persil ProClean ad, counts venerable advertising veteran Linda Knight as its executive creative director, though she’s technically outranked by chief creative officer Stephen Butler.

Last month, Badgers & Winters — an advertising firm helmed by Madonna Badger, the force behind Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg’s Calvin Klein campaigns, and Jim Winters, who led marketing at Vogue — announced it would no longer objectify women with a powerful ad campaign that declared #WomenNotObjects.

“Living in a culture in which women are objectified in almost every type of advertising that’s out there, objectification really harms women, children, and teenagers,” Badger says. “We decided we needed to step up and do something about it.”

Only about 11% of chief creatives in the entire industry are women.

“There are more CEOs named John than female CEOs in total,” Winters says. “You combine those facts and it’s not entirely surprising that this [sexism in advertising] still gets through.”

Grading this year’s ads on feminism

Some early favorites among female creatives include the Bud Light ad starring Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen, and the Mirren-fronted Budweiser ad.

“She is perceived as a strong-willed, sophisticated female, and I thought it was a good choice. It was simple, and I liked the ad,” Stephanie Holland, the founder of She-Economy, which consults on marketing to women. “Budweiser is one that I think really nails it every year. There’s always that emotional aspect to it, and a real human side to Budweiser.”

“It’s not only a grand dame whose one whose widely recognized, but it’s also really strong social responsibility message,” says Samantha Skey, the chief revenue officer of SheKnows media who coined the term “femvertising” in 2014. “It’s a cool ad.”

Mini USA ads, which featured Williams, soccer star Abby Wambach, rapper T-Pain, among others, and urged customers to defy labels, was also a favorite.

“That’s a great example of aligning the values that people have with your brand, and making a statement,” Badger says.

But not all ads were a home run — Hyundai’s two spots received some criticism.

One featuring Ryan Reynolds seemed to suggest that women needed a self-braking car to save themselves from distractions like handsome men.

Another ad featuring Kevin Hart stalking his daughter on the first date was funny, says Gordon, but the ad has the girl’s boyfriend — not her — drive Hart’s cars.

“Why didn’t he let the daughter drive?” Gordon says. “And that was almost a home run.”

Getting women right

But it’s no surprise that these ads haven’t been the norm when it comes to female representation at the big game.

On advertising’s biggest day of the year, the market had long been permeated with representations of women partaking in catfights, washing cars in few clothes, or nagging their husbands.

“The ads used to be really formulaic,” Gordon says, “Lots of stereotypes, lots of kind of frat-boy humor, lots of physical humor — and very few women in ads.”

“Advertising has really held the male gaze as the primary consumer perspective,” says Skey. “And we bought the products that objectified us in their advertising.”

Women have incredible buying power when it comes to the Super Bowl — audience viewership was split almost 50-50 between men and women during last year’s game, and women account for two-thirds of U.S. consumer spending.

The change has been slow in coming as women have been fighting the Super Bowl sexism on several fronts.

There’s been increased pressure in recent years from both consumers and initiatives like Femvertising and Gordon’s 3% conference and SuperBowl TweetUps, in which female creatives live tweet their reactions to ads.

Some of that pressure has even come from the NFL, which — after facing backlash for its handling of cases domestic violence involving its players — has made a concerted effort to appeal to women.

Ahead of Sunday’s game, which will feature an anti-domestic violence ad by the NFL, the league hosted a women’s summit and announced that teams will be required to interview at least one woman for executive openings.

And, finally, there seems to be a sea change in how women are portrayed in advertising. (Advertising on social media platforms is a different story entirely.)

Last year, Always had its first-ever Super Bowl ad — and one of the first ads for a feminine product during the game — with its empowering #LikeaGirl campaign. And this year, it appears more brands have followed suit.

“More and more, we’re going to start seeing brands aligning themselves along empowerment,” Badger says.

Changing the ratio

But even if more brands are incorporating female empowerment into their ad campaigns, many say it’s not enough if men are the ones still making ads.

“With all of this imagery around objectifying women, how are we to be taken seriously in conference rooms? I realize that that’s a bit of an old-fashioned thing to say,” Badger says.

“Because we’re still coming from the male perspective, some of the empowerment ads [about women] feel condescending. They’re trying to tell us not to feel inferior, when they’re the ones who made us feel inferior all along,” Holland says.

Holland cited some of the Dove empowerment ads that told all women they were beautiful. The ad was produced by Ogilvy & Mather, Brazil
, an agency with men as chief executive officer and executive creative directors.

“We’ve spent years trying to tell the women what to look like — whether it’s waif-like or Barbie-like, and now we have to tell people that it’s OK not to look that way, instead of just being that way,” she added.

“You wouldn’t ever need to tell a man: ‘you’re endowed.’”

By Samantha Cooney

Source: Google News Super Bowl Commercials
Super Bowl commercials are finally showing strong women and it’s about time – Mashable

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