Because the Super Bowl is becoming more popular for women, corporations should be careful to avoid sexist advertising
The Super Bowl may be the most important football game of the year, but for some it is a day just to enjoy the commercials. Super Bowl commercials are exciting, outrageous and often star celebrities, but in recent years the commercials have become overtly sexual and have portrayed women in a less-than-positive light. This trend toward more sexualized advertisements during the Super Bowl is offensive and belittles female viewers.
Beautiful women wearing little clothing often eroticize the commercials. Look back to last year and recall the ridiculous GoDaddy.com commercial where Jillian Michaels and Danica Patrick painted the almost-naked body of a supermodel, or the 2011 Super Bowl ad where Kim Kardashian flaunted her body in order to market Sketchers sneakers, a product that only requires showing feet.
Women are displayed as sex symbols in Super Bowl commercials because companies want to appeal to straight male viewers. But recently more and more women are beginning to watch the Super Bowl. A record 51 million women watched the Super Bowl last year, a statistic that should convince companies to make commercials that also appeal to women instead of just men.
Recognizing the increasing amount of women viewers, ESPN.go.com reported that Super Bowl commercials this year will be targeted at female viewers. In the article, Tim Malefyt, an advertising professor at Fordham Business School, said: “The effect of the Super Bowl is much greater than just Super Bowl Sunday. These ads live on social media and websites, and marketers want to get the most from that.”
Malefyt said women are better communicators and networkers than men — and marketers recognize that.
Malefyt is right. Women communicate more over social networking sites and are more likely to share their opinions publicly on Twitter or Facebook. As a result, companies are leaning more toward gender-neutral Super Bowl advertising, as opposed to the highly sexualized ads of last year, in order to appease the increasing amount of female viewers. In doing so, companies can avoid negative Tweets and Facebook statuses, posted by female viewers, that could potentially hurt companies’ products.
Appeasing the female audience is especially important this year in light of the #NotBuyingIt campaign. MissRepresentation.org is promoting a Twitter campaign about “demanding respect, standing up to sexism and making sure future generations face less gender stereotypes than we do,” according to the organization’s website.
The campaign encourages women to use social networking sites like Twitter to boycott the products featured in advertisements degrading women. In response to sexist commercials, like the Dr. Pepper commercial that aired in 2011 with the slogan “it’s not for women” or any of the array of commercials that display women as sex symbols, women will post #Superbowl and #NotBuyingIt.
This campaign could hurt companies that do not alter their commercials to be gender-neutral and less sexist because women’s purchasing power and influence over social media are increasing. And with more of them watching the Super Bowl, companies need to be careful how they advertise their products.
So though commercials in past years have been demeaning toward women, it can be expected that commercials will be more appropriate this year to appease female viewers. If companies want to advertise their products successfully during the Super Bowl, it would be wise to stay away from anything degrading to women.
Meredith Berger’s column appears Mondays in The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.