Sports advertisements and women: Olympics and the Super Bowl

2014 is an important year for sports, and brands have lined up to take advantage of the events.  The winter Olympics start this weekend, and the World Cup begins this summer.  Traditionally, advertisers focused on male sport fans.  However, women are avid sports fans, and are quickly becoming advertisers’ target audience for sport-related advertising.   The Super Bowl was last weekend, and although the advertisers generally played it safe, there was plenty of material focused on women.  Consider this ad from Budweiser – horses, cute puppies, heartwarming stories…this ad was totally focused on women.

Combine women’s enthusiasm for televised and live sport, and their incredible consumer power, it is a potent and profitable mix for companies.  For the Olympics, P&G – the large consumer products conglomerate has planned a multi-million dollar campaign, focusing on the power of moms.

Even for alcohol advertising – a historical male domain – marketers are making inroads to women.  Consider this Guinness advert for the US market.  It is incredibly powerful, without being overly girly or emotional.  Even the sport that is featured, biathlon, is hardly a ‘female’ sport.   It is a great example of an ad that reaches men and women. (It is not on YouTube right now because Guinness is not an “official” sponsor of the Olympics.)

What do all of these ads have in common:

  • Recognize women as a part of the target audience
  • Engage the viewer by storytelling
  • Incorporates emotion without being cloying
  • Feature the brand, not “brand light” – a feminized version of the brand

Currently, the proliferation of female-focused advertisements has not driven male viewership down for sporting events.   If this begins to happen, it will be interesting to see how advertisers adjust their campaigns to be more ‘male friendly’.  Will we see blog posts in the future, focusing on how to make advertising campaigns more responsive to male viewers?

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