Putting Women at the Forefront of Advertising

  • Making Sure Women Feel Seen
  • A Powerful Sub-segment

Women’s History Month offers an opportunity to honor the ways in which women of all ages and backgrounds have contributed to our culture and society, shaping the course of history and making an impact on future generations. The women who break down barriers, creating and contributing to new ideas and innovations inspire the next group of women leaders, entrepreneurs and changemakers.

Given the fact that women control or influence up to 85% of consumer spending – in addition to influencing the general audiences, brands would also benefit from identifying best practicing for speaking to this important audience to both increase their brand building power in addition to increasing their short-term sales. Whether it’s telling female-centric stories or celebrating unique experiences, stories that draw women in don’t only create emotional engagement they create better brand penetration as a whole.

Our Feeling Seen USA report highlights how advertisers are approaching diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). Read on to learn how ads can effectively showcase stories by, for and about women.

Making Sure Women Feel Seen

Feeling Seen USA takes a deeper dive into 58 diverse U.S. ads. Of these ads, 21 included female characters and stories. Each ad is assigned a Star Rating (from 1-Star to 5-Stars) using System1’s Test Your Ad platform. The score is determined by viewers’ emotional responses to the creative, with higher feelings of happiness and scores being the goal in order to drive long-term brand building.

Our report demonstrates that more unites audiences than divides them. American Airlines’ “Putting Them First” ad showcases an African American military member who is waiting to board her plane. She doesn’t know that those in service receive priority boarding and when a gate announcement makes it clear she can come forward, she does so shyly at first. As an elderly man watching stands and salutes, she does so with more confidence. Respect for the military is a universal value so it’s no surprise that this ad scored a strong 4.5-Stars with the general sample. Among women, it received a maximum 5.9-Star score.

In Feeling Seen USA, we found that it often works better when a brand tells an individual story accurately rather than trying to relate to everyone. A brand may choose to highlight the experiences of a woman over 55 years old, a Hispanic woman or a lesbian couple. Toyota focused on Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long for its ad promoting the 2020 Summer Olympics and 2020 Summer Paralympics and came away with strong 4.7-Star scores among the general public and a sample of people with disabilities.

A Powerful Sub-segment

One sub-segment of the female population that is especially influential when it comes to purchasing decisions is mothers. Research finds that mothers mention brands an average of 73 times per week compared with only 57 times per week among men. Advertisers need to capitalize on the conversations mothers have with their friends, family members, colleagues and others. Ensuring ads are tested with the mother audience can not only unlock useful insights for campaigns but also extend reach.

Staying top of mind is key – brands need to be easily recalled during conversation or at the point of purchase. Additionally, it’s important that viewers form positive associations with a brand. To accomplish this, ads must make the women watching feel happy, as a positive emotional response is a great predictor of long-term brand building. For example, ads that showcase the authentic moments that mothers experience can create lasting connections with a brand. Gatorade’s commercial featuring Serena Williams and her daughter is a strong example of showcasing motherhood to appeal to women as well as the wider population.

We all want to feel seen and heard, even when we’re watching advertisements. Brands that make an effort to portray the many different yet unifying experiences of women and celebrate our unique qualities better position themselves for success.