Skip to content

Everyone’s asking, “how did women do in the Super Bowl ads this year?”  “Did they appear empowered?” “Are they shown with respect?” The good news, according to Jack Neff of AdAge, female gender scores did improve a little this year over last.  But, there’s still a ways to go. Meanwhile, here are the top five ads by the ABX Gender Equality Index™ for Females.

Five Exquisite 2019 Super Bowl Ads Portraying Women in Terrific Ways

As we look at the Top Five, it’s helpful to see how extraordinary these ads really were against the full line-up of 55 Super Bowl ads.  The waterfall chart below shows how each one scored in the ABX Gender Equality Index for Females.  To understand the graph, the yellow horizontal line is “average.”  So, ads that score above the line are considered properly portraying women in the ads.

Super Bowl 2019 Waterfall Chart showing all 55 ads.

Following are details for the top five ads for Female Gender including why the women scored so high and how they affected their brands.  ABX research has shown that a good Female Gender Score can impact Reputation by 10 percentage points and Calls-to-Action by up to 26.  But other variables in ads can drown out those good effects, as you’ll see in some cases.

Verizon and First Responders – Female Gender Score 117; ABX Index for overall Ad Effectiveness: 119

Female First Responder featured in Verizon ad.

This marvelous spot features Anthony Lynn, coach of the Chargers, who talks about being in an accident in 2005 & the first responders who saved him .  He was speaking with a group of first responders and gradually recognized several who had saved him including the woman featured in this photo.  The warm moment translated into giant positive scores for Verizon in Messaging, Reputation, Likability, Relevance and Intents to Act. Featuring a female in full rescue regalia created a strong and capable image for her. Successful in every way.  (Click on picture to see spot).

Bumble and Serena Williams – Female Gender Score 115; ABX Index: 80

Serena Williams for Bumble - her star power was great, but no one knows what Bumble is.

This spot features visuals of Serena Williams on a tennis court and in an office, and showing her wedding photograph. She says, “The world tells you that waiting is polite but if I waited to be invited in I never would have stood out.” She’s right, of course, and if there had been any link to the brand at all, the ad probably would have been a success.  However, nothing is seen or heard about Bumble or what it does, so frustrated viewers scored the ad negatively throughout.  (Click on photograph to see the ad).

Hey Google “More than One” – Female Score 113; ABX Index 117

Beautiful picture from Microsoft's ad showing how a new Google app can communicate between cultures.

Throughout this beautiful ad are visuals of people in different cultures and religions using the Google app to communicate by using the most commonly used words worldwide to connect each other.  The ad moves very quickly, which is likely why Brand Linkage was lower than expected.  However, viewers caught on and rated the ad highly for Message, Reputation, Likability, Relevance and most CTA’s.  However, the Purchase score was low at 77, which often happens when an ad skews too much toward Image.  Still, the women featured throughout the vignettes were presented beautifully in culturally appropriate clothing and glowing as they related to others through the app.  Truly a wonderful ad.

Toyota and Female Football Player Antoinette “Toni” Harris –  Female Score 113; ABX Index 103

Toyota's ad featuring Toni Harris, the successful female football player.

“They said she was too slow, too weak, they said she’d she’d never get to the next level, never inspire a new generation, never get a football scholarship …” which was completely wrong.  This spot is a beautiful example of a strong and courageous woman who gets her scholarship and moves forward in her football career.  The spot also features the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid that will also shatter expectations, which was juxtaposed against Toni to show power.  As with the Bumble spot, the talent outplayed the brand in this one and overall ad scores were good, but not great, outside of Likability and Intentions to Look For more information and Talk About the spot.  

Microsoft XBox Adaptive Controller – Female Score 112; ABX Index 131 (the top spot overall for 2019) 

Microsoft Super Bowl commercial featuring a child playing with the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

Microsoft’s Super Bowl LIII commercial features young children with disabilities who are also avid gamers.  The kids share how they are able to rise to the top with help from their friends, family and the Xbox Adaptive Controller, illustrating Microsoft’s commitment to building accessible technology.  This spot was so clearly understood, that Reputation scored 253, Likability 196, and Intentions to Talk About the ad to  227.  The women and girls shown brightly as they felt empowered through the application.

Overall, we see lots of reasons to be encouraged that the portrayal of women by Super Bowl advertisers is improving.  Next post will tackle the five worst Super Bowl ads for the Female Gender Index and how you can avoid making the same mistakes in your advertising.