Feminist Super Bowl AdWatch Finds Few Women, But Plenty of Demeaning Stereotypes

Where were the women? This was a common cry from the monitors in the National Organization for Women Foundation’s 2008 Feminist Super Bowl AdWatch.

“By the second quarter, I said to my friends that there were more animals in the ads than women,” said Karen from Florida.

“Women were virtually non-existent in speaking roles and the overwhelming tone exalted violence,” reported Gail from Texas. Another monitor stressed that when women were shown they were as passive objects — not active players in the storyline. Often, women’s sexual availability to men was central to the theme of the sales pitch.

The use of diversity in the ads could often be boiled down to “blatant racism” and “ethnic exploitation,” as many of these characters were stereotyped and cartoonish.

Advertisers paid an average of $2.7 million for a 30 second commercial this year — a sure sign that they believe their commercials will make a big impact on the viewing audience. The NOW Foundation agrees with these companies — advertising does matter in our media-saturated culture. The portrayal of women and girls, people of color, and other disenfranchised groups can affect how they are viewed in society and how they feel about themselves.

That’s why the NOW Foundation got in the game and compiled our own feminist rankings for the best and worst ads. GoDaddy.com’s ad was voted the most offensive, with the Planters ad not far behind.

Read the full report online.


Contact: Caitlin Gullickson, media[at]now.org, 202-628-8669 ext 123