On Sunday evening US time, tens of millions of Americans tune into the Super Bowl, the national championships of the National Football League.
It’s the most watched TV program of the year in the US and in 2020, it is estimated roughly half of the millions of people watching the game will be women.
In previous years, the ads have been known to be almost completely male-focused, and at times, blatantly sexist. This year, a number of advertisers are taking a different approach, highlighting women who are defying stereotypes in all walks of life.
San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers, who on Sunday became the first woman and first openly gay person to coach a Super Bowl game, is profiled in Microsoft’s 60-second ad.
The advertisement follows Katie as she coaches her team in the lead up to the game. She says that as a child, she always knew she wanted to be involved with the NFL but had “never seen a female coach before.”
“People tell me that people aren’t ready to have a woman lead, but these guys (the players) have been learning from women their whole lives – their mums, grandmas, teachers,” Sowers says in the ad.
“I’m not trying to be the best female coach, I’m trying to be the best coach,” she continues. “All it takes is one and then it opens the door for so many.”
The ad closes with the words: “Thanks Katie, for being the one.”
“The bar is not just to be politically correct, but to be proactively supportive of women and their role, and in doing so really anybody,” Kathleen Hall, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of brand, advertising and research told CNBC.
Olay’s 30-second ad ‘Make Space for Women’ mocks the notion that there isn’t enough space in space exploration for women. It calls for viewers to tweet using the hashtag #MakeSpaceForWomen and every tweet will be matched by a $1 donation to Girls Who Code.
The ad comes almost a year after NASA was forced to postpone the first all-female spacewalk because there weren’t enough appropriately sized space suits for the female astronauts taking part.
The advertisement features actress Busy Phillips and YouTube start Lilly Singh, along with astronaut Nicole Stott.
The NFL itself aired a two-minute pre-game ad that includes 32 children, about one-third female, representing teams in the NFL. The ad features Toni Harris, the first woman to have received a full college scholarship as a position player. Carli Lloyd, a star US football player, also stars in the ad as a field goal kicker.
SodaStream’s spot guest stars Alyssa Carson, an 18-year-old astrobiology student training to be part of the first crewed mission to Mars.
The average cost of advertising during the Super Bowl is $5 million for a single 30-second spot.
And while advertisers have been slow to realise that it is women, not men, who exercise the most purchasing power in the US, it seems they are finally catching on.