NFL waking up to women being big part of fan base

NFL waking up to women being big part of fan base


MIAMI — Nearly 30 years after Cindy Crawford showed up at a gas station in her Daisy Dukes and white tank top, flipping her hair while two young boys stared, women are again getting a prominent role in some Super Bowl ads.

But instead of being showcased as a sex object, with little value beyond being ogled, the women who will be seen in living rooms and dens across the country Sunday will project images of power and strength. World Cup champions Carli Lloyd and Crystal Dunn are featured as football players in a Secret commercial – to air before the game. San Francisco 49ers assistant Katie Sowers, the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl, stars in an ad for Microsoft Surface. And Olay has an all-female team of astronauts.

It’s reflective not only of changes in how women are viewed in society, but of how advertisers, marketing agencies and even the NFL are waking up to women being a significant portion of the fan base and having a greater role in buying decisions. 

“We’re not doing the typical ‘macho beer commercial’ ad,” Kathleen Hall, corporate vice president of brand, advertising and research for Microsoft, told USA TODAY Sports. “The venue has changed. There’s a lot more – I don’t know if I’d use the word broad, but more inclusive advertisers for sure.”

Katie Sowers will be the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl in her role as an assistant for the San Francisco 49ers.

And with in-game ads costing more than $5 million for 30 seconds, well, “You can’t pay that ticket and ignore half the people that are watching,” said Hall.

The NFL is not an obvious leader in the equality movement. Despite women making up nearly half of its fan base, and driving some 80% of consumer purchasing decisions, the NFL largely ignored them until the past five years or so.


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