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February 6, 2014 — With 48% of Super Bowl viewership being female, we wondered why, for so many years, so many brands continued to cater to the male audience, and a stereotypical, beer-guzzling cave man at that. To take a pulse on the year’s brand marketing juggernaut, we curated a live #Frankbowl discussion amongst the Frank About Women team, industry influencers and the everyday consumer on Twitter.

Not only was Super Bowl 48 the most-watched television event in U.S. history, drawing 111.5 million viewers on Sunday night, it also set a new bar in terms of what type of content brands were pushing out and viewers were taking in. We saw a shift from previous years’ advertising with brands investing in far more emotive content. Brands like Coca-Cola – America is Beautiful, Chevy – Life and Cheerios – Gracie pulled on your heartstrings, trying really hard to connect with your softer side.

The overall sentiment, in the social space and at our water cooler, was that very few viewers missed the typical sophomoric humor that has plagued the big game in recent years. That said, we had a healthy debate here at Frank about whether the brands that actively attempted to embrace a more female (read softer) audience did so at their own peril, with many commercials coming off as obligatory and insincere. They seemed to forget the millions of marketing miles that exist between bathroom humor and Hallmark overload. The sentimental content, while real and relevant, highlighting themes such as cancer and welcoming war heroes home, were just as hard to swallow amidst the beer and chicken wings, and therefore they didn’t seem to ignite much post-game chatter.

If #Frankbowl saw any winners, other than the Seahawks, it was the brands that embraced the consumer’s human side. They kept their audience in mind and leveraged the watching behaviors of our Super Bowl-crazed society, investing in more social extensions and content that complemented a mouthful of nachos. The content was engaging, self-deprecating, humorous and smart. For these brands, it wasn’t about making a distinction between a female and a male audience, but rather about connecting on a personal level, relevant to the current cultural climate, while capitalizing on one of the biggest social events all year. These ads drove conversation and debate at Super Bowl gatherings across the country and kept the chatter going long into the workweek. Marketing to women is not about being soft or shocking, it’s about reading the room and tapping into the energy the consumer is putting out. If we learned anything this Super Bowl season, it’s that we could all use a little more Anna Kendrick in our life. Pass the Newcastle.

The national champions may be crowned but the conversation doesn’t stop. Follow us on Twitter @FrankAboutWomen for the latest fresh, Frank thoughts on women, culture and marketing.

Seton McGowan About the Author
Seton McGowan VP, Associate Director - Social Strategy

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