Ad Bowl: Going To The Dogs

There has been plenty of coverage of the ads on Super Bowl XLVI.  After all, the “game” for Americans is about more than football, since marketing is one of Americans’ favorite spectator sports. In fact, research confirms that more than half of us tune in for the ads.

Women make more than half of the purchase decisions in America (80%, according to some measures), and women comprised 46% of the Super Bowl viewing audience -- 51 million of the 111 million viewers were female. According to Hanon McKendry, women are particularly likely to follow the marketing game as much as the football (66% vs. 45% men), which means they are likely to pay more attention to the multimillion-dollar spots than to the blocking and tackling.

Women’s Favorite Super Bowl Ads

Not finding much research on the topic, we conducted our own informal poll among women. The big standout was David Beckham’s ad for his new H&M undewear line --  the #1 winner among women (but near the bottom in the USA Today Ad Meter).



These responses were typical: Looove the fact that finally they want to sell us s*** using a very hot man!”  “Like the objectification of a male – as opposed to the gawd-awful Teleflora and Fiat spots – but not sure it’s gonna move the 'bottom line' (no pun intended!)”  

Most women’s picks fell in line with viewer favorites. In other words, women -- like men -- went to the dogs. They loved the Doritos dog, the Skechers dog, the Volkswagen dog, and the Bud Light dog. 

You can’t go wrong with dogs. In USA Today’s Super Bowl coverage for the past 20 years, ads featuring animals won the #1 slot half the time; ads featuring dogs took the top slot five times. This year, women weren’t as kind to other animals, saying to Coke: “Enough with the polar bears” and to CareerBuilder: “Didn’t you use chimps last year?”

Women noted that Bud Light’s dog “Weego” was a “rescue,” which registered positively (“The rescue dog spot was nice but liked the tie-in to a broader cause; this was a big hit with the other women as well.”)

In general, women seemed attuned to the “stories behind the ads.”  They noted Chevrolet’s post-apocalyptic ad: “This was in my top five because of the CMO’s response to Ford's cease and desist order;” about the Budweiser post-prohibition ad that, “It got the room talking about what companies did during those thirteen years to make money,” and Chrysler’s post-first-half ad: “It feels good when a brand thinks about the real world and what is going on in America.” 

In our poll among women, GM’s ad was a field goal compared to last year’s touchdown, which featured Eminem, and left some cold.  (“I might be the ONLY one in America who hated it, but to me that Clint Eastwood spot was a snoooozefest.”)

Ads Women Hated

As important as what women liked was what they hated  -- the GoDaddy spots (“So old, so formulaic, so horrible). They hated Fiat’s “Seduction” spot. They hated Teleflora’s Adriana Lima spot. Super Bowl advertisers might seriously consider whether running such laddish fare in front of 51 million women is a good idea.  Do women really not register domain names?  Buy cars?  Notice which company their guy buys flowers from?     

Dannon -- Yawn

Finally, one ad went directly after women, and generated a… yawn. Dannon’s ad featuring Jon Stamos being headbutted by his breakfast companion got industry flak for being a bit too like a 7-Up ad that featured a woman headbutting a teasing man. Our respondents rated it in the middle of the pack.  As one woman noted, “How would you feel if you were once famous and now doing yogurt commercials?!?!?”

Here are our top and bottom rankers:


Big Winners With Women

1. H&M Beckham

2. Doritos Dog

3. VW Dog

4. Skechers Dog

5. Chrysler Halftime Eastwood

6. Chevy Silverado

7. Budweiser Prohibition


Big Losers With Women

1. GoDaddy Body Paint

2. GoDaddy Cloud

3. Fiat Seduction

4. Bud Light Platinum (“Boring.  Who are they kidding?  It’ll taste like Bud Light.”)

5. Movie Trailers (“None of us could remember any of them.”)

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