Super Bowl Commercials: How Women Fare

It’s Super Bowl day.  Some people are ready to root for their favorite teams (Me, not so much.  I’m still really bitter about the Vikings’ loss.) Others are excited to drink and eat.  And of course, everyone is mad about Puppy Bowl.

Just as more people are known to watch the red carpet on Oscar day than the actual awards show, many more are expected to watch the commercials during the Super Bowl broadcast than see the actual game itself.   That’s why retailers, service industries, and this year even advocacy groups fight so hard to buy these coveted (and hugely expensive) ad spots.

With so many dollars at stake, it’s expected that creative teams bring their A game, so to speak, when crafting their ads.  Yet it’s interesting to see how women fare in these spots. 

Focus on the Family, with their $2.5 million ad buy during the game and now their reported additional ads purchased in the pre-game show, has brought a lot of controversy to the big game.  But a commercial about a mother and son discussion of abortion makes one pretty big assumption of it’s audience: that there are enough women watching the ad to make it worthwhile.  An ad celebrating women choosing to carry a child to term despite a doctor’s warning of birth defects isn’t of much interest to an audience of men who will never need to make that sort of choice. 

That is the one piece of praise that I can give Focus on the Family for their Super Bowl buy: they aren’t assuming that everyone watching is a sexist male.

Of course, we can’t say the same for Go Daddy.  They’ve made such a name for themselves with their ads that people already can guess what they are going to see. will have 2 30-second ads in the first and fourth quarters    and will feature Danica Patrick. We imagine she’ll probably get almost naked and they’ll tell you to go to their website to see more but there really won’t be a whole lot more and you’ll leave, disappointed but 3 domain names richer.

Super Bowl ad campaigns appear to make the assumption that every man watching has regressed to age 15, and that no stereotype is too easy or too crass.  Last year’s most sexist commericals involved a woman’s clothes ripping off as she walked down the street, flowers that tell a woman that no one wants to see her naked and she’s going to always be alone, or the stereotypical nagging woman driving a (potato) man crazy.

And that’s without counting the GoDaddys…

So inherently, is there really any reason to expect commercials this year to respect women?  From objectifing them like GoDaddy does to talking down to them and telling them they can’t make their own choices for their own bodies like the Focus people want to, I really don’t feel much hope.

Want to really respect women?  Join the campaign to donate $5 to a women’s group to counter the anti-women messages in the Super Bowl.  Or, turn off the program altogether.

Even better, do both.



Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Past Member 7 years ago

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Diana D.
Diana D8 years ago

Ladies, Lighten Up!

The Dodge Ram commercial, Man’s Last Stand, was funny. I didn’t see it as sexist but as an accurate description of things some women ask of their husband, partner, boyfriend: put the toilet seat down, shave, take off socks before getting into bed, etc.

I am a woman who works in marketing. I know many women who are Directors and V.P. of marketing for major Fortune 500 companies, as well as advertising agencies. I say if you don’t like the commercials and think they are two sexist, then organize and get your own commercial aired on Super Bowl Sunday.

Dodge would be foolish to make a commercial that isn’t macho.
They are targeting to MEN.
Come on ladies, lighten up.
The commercial was funny and effective. It reached its target audience, which is the point of a good advertising campaign.

There are many commercials that DO emasculate men. Look at Home Depot where his wife, with just a look and by folding her arms, tells the man that he had better fix up the back yard or improve the front of the house. Or the reluctant man who has to go to Lowe’s with his wife to shop for washing machines. I know I am capable of shopping for a washing machine myself and do not need my husband to escort me there.

Then there is the wife talking on the telephone to her friend describing how she lost weight just by eating yogurt. The husband overhears the conversation and, not knowing she is referring to yogurt, looks through the refri

Ann Fonfa
Ann Fonfa8 years ago

angelfriend Kat S.
Past Member 8 years ago

Well written article,thanks. Thank God I didn't watch the ads. They have always been disrespectful to women. More and more ads make us out to be stupid irrational creatures
causing problems for the almighty men of this nation cause the men are losing their controls over us.

Barbara R & Clara H ...wake up, you've been
closing your eyes to the real problems of the real world to long...violence against women... which is fed by those kinds of ads disrespecting and blaming women...they make those kinds of ads BECAUSE they know women ARE watching thus eating on women's self esteem and men are given the go ahead to act how they want. I pray nothing criminal ever happens to you, but it is happening to other women and it is not FUNNY.

When did God say we have no right to make choices for our own bodies, that we have to ask religious leaders what to do. Their slates are not to clean...hypocrites. Religious leaders should not be giving out advice {ads}

Robyn F.
Robyn O'Neill8 years ago

I'm one woman who Jeffrey W. would not want to see naked. Too bad all these immature boys weren't carefully taught to be respectful of all human beings, not just the ones they want "to do". We have a very sick society when it comes to attitudes toward women and I'm old enough to realize that TV is a main cause. I know from experience and asking older people about the subject, that before TV there was more respect given to all kinds of women.

Marian B.
Marian B8 years ago

I am not interested in Superbowl.

Amelia P.
Past Member 8 years ago

People seem to confuse 'male orientated' with 'sexist' advertisements. And to all those people who say 'whats the big deal' well the big deal is that some of us do not want to be represented as brainless, worthless sex objects.

And to Jeffrey W... I'm sorry to hear you have such a negative experience of women. Perhaps if you were a bit nicer and more balanced in your world view you would attract nicer people. Otherwise, go back to your cave!

Rosemarie M.
Rosemarie M8 years ago

CollieGirlcg. Good for you and brave to say what you did in this forum. I'll stand next to you on that one. We will get a lot of nasty comments, but I'm right there with you.

GreenseasKat C.
kathryn cook8 years ago

was not impressed w/last nights Super Bowl ads