Yes. I’m one of the 40.5 million women (out of 90 million people) expected to watch this year’s Super Bowl game. And, while I’m usually not a huge professional football fan (college ball is another thing – Go Blue), something changed my perspective this season. I’ll tell you the specifics of my story a little later, but, the larger picture is what I’m really getting at…
Marketing transparently (a concept introduced in my book, Don’t Think Pink) to a core group of passionate sports fans reaches EVERYONE who loves various aspects of the game/spectacle, no matter their gender. When a brand is inspired and guided by its fans/customers, it will know exactly how to reach them.
But, a Victoria’s Secret or Dove ad here and there isn’t really what I’m talking about. What we seem to be witnessing over the past few years in terms of Super Bowl ad line-ups is the overall increasing awareness of, and ability of brands to see, the bigger picture – that there is this larger market out there, which includes sports fans who happen to be female! Who knew? On that day and in that space, male and female fans have a lot more in common over the game than they might have with others of their gender who don’t give a rip. It is all about the passion, excitement and occasion, and the NFL/Super Bowl “wins” by serving the highest sports fanatic customer standard.
And, this recognition of coed fan base goes beyond the NFL. I recently came across another indication that that the sports world is finding success with both genders by focusing on the fan rather than the gender of the fan. ESPN:The Magazine, likely stereotyped by many as a publication for 18 – 34 year old men alone, is actually doing a great job marketing transparently to sports fans of both genders. Famed snowboarder, Gretchen Bleiler, all smiles and ready for the X Games, is on this month’s cover. And, throughout the issue, there are lots of other articles and tidbits about great women in sports.
We could certainly attribute the Bleiler cover solely to her photogenic-ness (is that a word?), but I think the inclusion of women to a greater degree demonstrates an awareness of just who is reading the magazine. ESPN: The Magazine has evolved with its readers – and it’s editors didn’t go into the gender trap of focusing on women to the pendulum swinging exclusion of men. They stayed in tune with their readership, saw more letters and comments from women and, likely, more comments from men interested in women’s sports, as well (sport is sport, after all!).
Neither ESPN: The Magazine nor the Super Bowl decided to reach women with a pink version of the brand. Instead, they focused on the tone, style, humor, “feel” of their biggest fans to continue to grow their markets, and, I’d say, they are both winning.
But, back to the Super Bowl for a minute: Both my 70-something mom and I, in separate states with no planning, found ourselves being pulled into the recent Giants/Packers game. Neither of us could take our eyes off the Roman coliseum-like battle of these powerful athletes in the worst, coldest conditions ever. We were each interested, not as “women,” but as natural sport fans – and we are both very much more interested in watching the Super Bowl this year because of that game.
An article by Sarah Mahoney in MediaPost includes some fun facts to ponder:
Last year’s Super Bowl posted a 31.3 rating for women in the 18-to-49 demographic group, and last year’s Academy Award hauled in just 17.2. So marketers “would need two ads in the Oscars to reach the same number of women as one Super Bowl ad,” the Fox spokesperson says.
Also in that article, Todd Kirby, director of strategic research for Spark Communications, Starcom MediaVest Group’s digital agency, cited a shift among the types of women watching the game. Baby Boomer women are a growth audience, he says, with women 55-plus up 25% since 2003.
Caveat: I am by no means saying that both the NFL/Super Bowl and ESPN: The Magazine are perfect, and there is certainly much “pink” merchandise in the mix (which women do seem to love), but those two brands are making great strides. (Unfortunately, Lisa Baird, the NFL’s very savvy Senior VP of Marketing, recently left the company…). I love this sports case study as an example that even the seemingly most “male” of industries can learn to serve their female fans well, and do so without alienating men.
How’s that for a market research project? Go forth and sit back for 3 hours or so, eat chips, drink beer and watch TV. Thank me later.
This just in: PepsiCo will run a 60-second spot of silence during the Super Bowl. Now, THAT will get the attention of everyone.