Targeting Moms in the Big Game

It’s believed that more women than ever watched the Super Bowl this year. (The numbers weren’t in yet, but according to the Nielsen Company, in the last 10 years, the percentage of women watching has increased by 8 percent.) At Just Ask a Woman we are tuned into women all year long — especially moms — so we decided to find out how the 2010 Super Bowl ads connected with moms since they’re the shoppers, the caterers, the living room referees and yes, the growing fan segment.

Would marketers find ways to persuade women to check them out? Would agencies tap into the unique humor and emotion that works with moms? And would they take a different approach to men’s ads with so many women in the room?

The conclusion: While there were some big laughs scored, for the most part the game was business as usual — lots of guys with no pants, women in tight shirts, sassy kids, anthropomorphic animals and tackled grandmas. Funny works on the big day, and in our post-game survey, 60 percent of moms felt entertained by the ads. But only 26 percent of moms felt that Super Bowl sponsors were after their dollars. Clever stealth marketing — or a miss? Here’s our Thursday morning quarterbacking of the game’s targeting of women.

To get at the truth, we put all our antennae out, from an online survey of 1,100 moms in our database to monitoring multiple live viewing parties and from kickoff to final TD, we eavesdropped in the alternate universes of mom blogs and Twitter.

Who won? Just as ad critics voted Snickers and Google as Super Bowl sweethearts, moms loved them, too, and thought that those ads were made just for them. In fact, at our live viewing parties, the collective and resounding “awww’s” we heard were echoed as the Tweets and texts went into overdrive. 

Though Snickers went for slapstick and Google for heartstrings, both were perceived to be the most female focused of the game, scoring a 40 percent relevance rating among moms. Perhaps the message here is that women’s stories and sensibilities make powerful ad material. Who needs gender targeting when a great ad conquers all?

But some ads clearly tried to work the women’s angle and here’s our playbook on emotional triggers that resonated, for good and for bad, with moms:

The comfort of nostalgia: Playing Punch Buggy, reuniting with a Golden Girl, doing the Super Bowl shuffle and visiting with the Griswolds all hit the mom smile button. Women have told us that powerful memories work to get their attention and loyalty, and these results confirm that.

Perhaps in the context of the game, the memories made them wistful for simpler times — before kids, before the recession, before getting out of bed the day after a good Super Bowl party wasn’t a chore.

Feeling the love: The CBS Cares spot starring dreamy Mark Sanchez coaching women to be careful of heart health was the most overtly female targeted spot of the night. And manners aside, one of the Doritos spots, also female focused, showed moms that even a spunky 8-year-old can have your back. Showing men in ads works for women, as long as it’s the right men.

Being momma bear: Unfortunately, there were plenty of graphic and violent promos for CBS shows and new video games that left many moms wanting to shield their kids from the screen. As one mom shared, “Our youngest son was upset about the one with the tornado. He was worried people would be hurt.” And don’t get moms started on the animal cruelty innuendos from Denny’s.