Super or Not? Moms Respond to Big Game ads.


The good news: We’re seeing more women featured in Super Bowl ads. And less of them are positioned as scantily clad objects suggestively selling cars, burgers, domain names, etc.

The bad news: With women making up 49% of this year’s Super Bowl watching audience (1) and controlling 85% of all household purchasing decisions, it’s not enough for advertisers to simply avoid alienating or insulting them to succeed in the Super Bowl.

So what’s the best mix of messaging to win over women? We turned to The Mother Board (2), our agile insights community of thousands of moms from around the U.S., to see what hit and what missed among moms this year. With brands like Pampers, Olay, and Yellow Tail advertising, we learned that just having a female-focused brand doesn’t necessarily mean a slam dunk (err, touchdown). Brands have to find a delicate balance between resonating with women and living up to the Super Bowl hype.

The overall sentiment towards this year’s spots among the moms we surveyed was a resounding “meh.” But digging deeper, we found the spots most liked (and hated) on either side of that “meh” had three distinct attributes.

Relatability. While more women starred in Super Bowl ads this year than ever before, moms didn’t always relate to what advertisers had to say.

Hit: Amazon Alexa and M&Ms. Moms overwhelmingly loved the humor in the Amazon Alexa spot, especially where the dog keeps ordering dog food. “…it was so our family!” And the M&Ms spot with Christina Applegate connected with moms too, because it “was true and funny at same time.” — Felicity.

Miss: Olay and Yellow Tail. Olay’s horror movie reference missed the mark for many moms.  “The Olay one is my least favorite. I actually like their products, but anything that resembles a scary movie I have to turn off with my kids.” — Chelsea

And Yellow Tail’s non-obtrusive, slice-of-life approach was simply described as “boooooring” by the majority of respondents.

Authenticity:  When going for a tug-on-the-heart-strings, advertisers have to be authentic, or moms will see right through it. And boy did they, when it came to one spot in particular.

Hit: Microsoft and Verizon. Using the huge, expensive platform of the Super Bowl to not only advertise a product, but to humanize the often-unseen community of special needs families, did not go unnoticed by moms in the Microsoft spot.

“I loved that they were showing real children with special needs and showing them as real people”. — Charlotte

Verizon also presented an authentic story, well told. The spot highlighting first responders made at least one mom “want to visit the website to see all 12 stories”. — Jacinta

Miss: Kia. Kia’s approach, however, broadly missed the mark, coming across as inauthentic and trying too hard.

“I felt they kind of insulted the town and the people in it. I got the idea it was supposed to be inspiring somehow, but I did not feel inspired or know exactly what the message was supposed to be.” — Lucy

Summed up another way, “people do much more important things than make cars”. — Natalie

Family-friendly humor. Moms in our survey really appreciated a healthy dose of family-friendly humor. And a well-placed celebrity (or 44) didn’t hurt, either.

Hit: NFL, Pampers and Hyundai. “The NFL one was great. It had good cameos and was fun to watch.”— Jenna

Pampers reprise of “Stinky Booty Duty” was a mom-fav. “Pampers is a great example of showing men doing what they should be doing, but instead of some heavy-handed voice-over about it, they had fun with it.” — Gina

The Jason Bateman cameo for Hyundai also got a lot of attention. And simply put, “I like the Hyundai elevator commercial. Lots of laughs!” — April

Miss: Devour, Planters and pretty much anything with cliché, low-brow, dare we call it “dude” humor? The Devour spot was resoundingly viewed as too sexually suggestive and not funny. The Planters spot “tried a bit too hard. Not enjoyable.” — Mindy 

Besides being more relatable, authentically touching, and funny (not necessarily all in one commercial), moms had a few last words of advice for future Super Bowl advertisers:

More humans. Less robots. And please, no chunky milk.

1  Forbes
2  The Mother Board is ad agency WONGDOODY’s agile insights digital community of moms across the U.S., Canada and Australia that provides rich, qualitative feedback on marketing and advertising from this important consumer segment.

Chad Kukahiko