Remember trying out for team sports when you were a kid? How exciting it was to put your uniform on for the first time? To see your whole team outfitted as one bright shiny unit together? One that was going to kick ass and take names? Now imagine if everyone else's uniform fit great but yours was too short in the pants, the sleeves hanging down past your wrists. You're all still in the same colors but you don't make the same statement. You're not really part of the team.
As we prepare to watch Pittsburgh and Seattle battle it out on Sunday we noticed a flurry of articles this week regarding the recent "discovery" by marketers that women are indeed football fans. USA Today noted that sports apparel companies are finally designing NFL-licensed apparel for women that can be actually worn as something other than an over-sized nightshirt and seeing great response. In fact, a women's cut replica jersey has made Reebok's top 5 best sellers for Super Bowl XL (although the examples pictured in the article are an off-the-shoulder jersey and lace up skirt). What's interesting to us is that most all of the top sports apparel companies, Nike, Adidas and Reebok included, realized women were a key market years ago yet the knowledge wasn't applied to football fandom until now. With 43% of NFL fans female, we say better late than never.
The Chicago-based Marketing to Moms Coalition released survey results this week that said that moms wish Super Bowl advertisers would target them. Seems they might be in luck, because Unilever's Dove plans to run one of its now infamous Real Beauty ads during the game and Anheuser-Busch says it will make a stronger pitch to appeal to female customers. An interesting approach by an unexpected source, natural beauty co. Aveda is leveraging the Super Bowl to reach women by sampling products at several related events in and around Detroit. Read more on planned women's campaigns in Ad Age.
Every time we see companies reach out to women in a manner that responds to actual behavior vs. assumptions we applaud (sometimes even aloud). But that's just a piece of the puzzle. Reebok wouldn't have ended up with a top 5 selling jersey just by developing a female-friendly ad. They had to start by creating a product that made sense. One that finally made women feel like official members of the team.