Master of Science
Department or Program
Mass Communication and Media Arts
The beer industry is one of the largest moneymaking industries in the U.S., and is one that spends a significant amount of money on advertising expenditures. While beer companies traditionally target men in their advertisements, particularly those aired during televised sporting events, the female audience is practically ignored, although it is one that is growing in importance due to the increase in women as beer drinkers and sports fans.
The objectives of this study are to: (1) determine the extent to which females are targeted as potential consumers in beer advertising aired during Super Bowl broadcasts from 2011-2015; (2) examine the representations of men and women in these commercials; and (3) understand the impact that these beer commercials had on consumers in terms of how the content applied to them and whether they felt compelled to buy or drink the advertised beer.
A content analysis of 19 Bud Light and Budweiser commercials aired during Super Bowls from 2011 to 2015 was conducted to understand the commercial content and representations of characters. The sample was then narrowed to five commercials – one from each year – and a survey was conducted with 100 respondents who watched and analyzed each commercial. The survey discussed whether men or women were the primary targets in the commercials, whether respondents felt the commercials were engaging and appealing, the perceived messages of the commercials, respondents’ descriptions of the characters, and details about the respondents regarding their affinity to beer and sports.
In general, the research found that although women were present in the majority of commercials, respondents viewed them as pretty or sexy background characters rather than as primary targets or consumers. Very few respondents agreed that the commercials targeted a female audience. The men, on the other hand, were viewed as main characters in the commercials and were overwhelmingly seen as the primary audience for the commercials. The research also found that despite respondents finding the commercials visually engaging, few felt the content was applicable to them and even fewer felt compelled to buy or drink the advertised beer after watching the commercials.