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Last month, we listed the Top Five Super Bowl ads by how women were portrayed, and saw how those who treated women well also impacted their ad effectiveness. We also quoted Jack Neff of AdAge, who wrote that female gender scores did improve a little this year over last.  Now, let’s look at five spots with poor female images according to the ABX Gender Equality Index™, and see what we can learn.

Super Bowl Advertising that Treats Women like Second Class Citizens

As we look at five of the poorest ads for female gender, it’s helpful to see how extraordinary these ads really were against the full line-up of 55 Super Bowl ads.  The waterfall chart in the Top Five Super Bowl 2019 Ads shows how each one scored.

Expensify and 2 Chainz
Female Gender Index 69; ABX Index for Ad Effectiveness 75


Obviously, we need to have a sense of humor at times and assume the best about the creative intent behind the advertising.  But sometimes that doesn’t work.  In this spot, 2 Chainz is making a music video when he is interrupted by Adam Scott regarding expenses and paper receipts.  Cute idea, but this spot ranked #1 on the Dislike scale of all Super Bowl ads.   It also had the lowest ABX Gender Equality Index (GEI™)  scores for BOTH females and males, an extremely low Reputation score (26), and all negative CTA’s.  You just can’t take the chance of objectifying any characters any more; the public is on to you!  (Click on photograph to see the ad).

Sprint, Robots and Paul Marcarelli
Female Gender Index 81; ABX Index 98

This entertaining Sprint spot featured robots, baseball great Bo Jackson, a mermaid, a keyboard and, eventually, a flying dog (or something like that) along with spokesperson Paul Marcarelli.  This had a very poor Female gender score probably for the typecasting “dumb blonde” role.  Unfortunately, the spot was not well understood either, with a Brand Awareness score of just above average (104) and Message at 101.  More serious are the low Reputation and Action scores, which indicated the typecasting had a negative effect.  (Click on photograph to see the ad).

Bon & Viv’s Spiked Seltzer
Female Gender Index 84; ABX Index 91


Another mermaid spot, this one showed a fake Bonnie & Vivian pitching their new Sparkling Seltzer to a group of sharks.  It was actually a very cute idea, since it tied-in with the mermaid logo on the can. While nothing in the spot was over the line, the audience did not seem to be comfortable  with women portrayed in this way as you can see below on the scorecard.  On a positive note, Brand Awareness was okay at 98, and the Reputation score is well above average.  But the low Message score (83) contributed to a low Purchase score (98).  (Click on photograph to see the ad).

Avocados from Mexico & Kristin Chenoweth
Female Index 86; ABX Index 100

The visual was comprised of humans competing at a dog show for the ultimate prize of Avocados From Mexico. Kristen Chenoweth is one of the judges. The winner will get avocados from Mexico. Toward the end, a woman runs up to grab the guacamole, so they contain her with a pet collar, but she still tries to eat the avocados anyway. The spot is humorous though the poor Female gender score shows viewers’ dislike of how the woman was handled in the pet collar. The lower Message score of 85 shows the vignette ran a bit too fast, and wasn’t quite understandable. But, Reputation is good at 120 and there were plenty of Actions viewers indicated they’d be taking.

Michelob Ultra Pure Gold and Zoe Kravitz
Female Index 90; ABX Index 96)


The visual is Zoe Kravitz having a bottle of Michelob Ultra Pure Gold and comparing nature’s pureness to the beer. Zoe: “This place so pure you can can feel it, this beer so pure you can taste it, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold.”  This spot had strong Brand Awareness (107) , but poor Message, Reputation, Relevance and Likability.  In fact, it had the second highest Dislike score (226) of all Super Bowl ads; the first highest was Expensify at 240.  The big build-up of Zoe whispering “let’s have an experience together” and  her off-the-shoulder blouse sent confusing messages.  The only CTA that was positive was some watchers’ “intent to contact” the company.  (Click on photograph to see the ad).

Remember that strong female gender scores can drive CTA’s 26% higher and Reputation 10% higher, so keep an eye on how your female actors are Presented; make sure they look and behave Respectfully; that they are dressed and positioned Appropriately; and, ideally, could be considered Role Models.  That’s the magic formula!  See our page, “Insights from Measuring Gender Equality, Ethnicities, Diversity & Inclusion, and Sustainability” for more!

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