This year’s Super Bowl commercials did not disappoint, making us laugh, making us cry and inspiring us. For women in sports, women in tech and women fighting for equality in male-dominated industries, none were more inspiring than the ads from Olay and Secret.
Olay’s ad features Lilly Singh and Busy Phillips as astronauts heading into space with retired astronaut Nicole Scott. Taraji P. Henson is mission control, with Katie Couric as the news anchor talking about their mission. The ad is to #MakeSpaceforWomen, with $1 being donated to Girls Who Code for every tweet with that hashtag leading up to and during Super Bowl LIV.
“Focusing on STEM in particular was something that appealed to me,” Couric said. “Girls Who Code is an incredible organization. It has reached 185,000 girls across the country and around the world. They have 30,000 college aged alumni, but what is really I think important is their alumni’s are majoring in computer science and related fields at 15 times the national average.”
For Singh, who’s been using Olay products for years (she highly recommends the Retinol 24), a Super Bowl ad, and one with such a good message, was a no brainer.
“They’ve genuinely helped my skin look like this and helped me feel confident,” Singh said. “So when they approached me with the Super Bowl opportunity, of course it was so exciting to be part of such a monumental moment. But what really struck me was the fact that it was a commercial with purpose. I always found it super meaningful to do something on the world’s biggest stage, that actually was for a cause and so I loved that. And especially a cause that’s been so close to my heart, gender parity across industries. Are you kidding me? I live for that.”
Couric’s Katie Couric Media (KCM), focuses on “scripted and non-scripted projects that are committed to creating smart, trustworthy, relatable content,” making this campaign one that is close to her heart.
“We’re basically doing a number of things, but our model is to work with purpose driven brands that share our values.” said Couric. “I’m interested in tackling a number of social issues. I’m interested in elevated conversations and quality content that will help people better understand the world and maybe change their perspective on certain issues and problems.”
Olay has also made a point to focus on not just outer beauty, but also on inner beauty as well.
“I think Olay is really been on the forefront of talking about internal beauty, about self-esteem, about achievement, about being fearless,” said Couric. “I also think it speaks to the larger values of Procter and Gamble.”
Secret’s #KickInequality ad features soccer star Carli Lloyd making a game-winning kick and then surprising the crowd when she takes off her helmet and it is revealed that it was indeed a woman who is the hero.
“…I just loved that Secret is just trying to get a conversation started,” said Samantha Ponder, host of Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN and spokeswoman for Secret’s #KickInequality campaign. “…The visual of seeing women in that setting, that’s just really powerful. Sometimes you do have a visual of something in order to picture ourselves in that spot and I think Secret did a really good job.”
As a woman working in sports media, Ponder has had her fair share of being stereotyped and of being treated unfairly.
“…I can’t tell you how many times, I literally host an NFL show, and people will ask me, ‘So do you actually like the football?,’” Ponder said. “…[W]e still have so far to go and we’ve made huge strides. And even just coming to an event like this and seeing how many more women there are as opposed to years in the past, I mean there’s definitely a shift that’s happening. We just need more.”
As the mother of a five year-old daughter, Ponder knows the importance of driving equality in all things home early.
“I think it’s about exposure,” Ponder said. “I think it’s about what [my daughter] sees, how we talk to her, limits that you put on your kids when you don’t even realize. Little things, like my husband does a really good job of this, if he’s playing with the kids in the backyard, he’s not just throwing a football to our son, we just include our daughter in everything that we include our son in. And that doesn’t mean you force them…I want her to be whatever she wants to be, but we still value the lessons that you learned…the way you can self-identify when you’re in sports, when you’re a part of a team, when you learn how to handle conflict, or someone’s disappointment, learning how to handle a loss, that kind of stuff, that exposure to sports really make the difference, I think, especially in young girls in terms of confidence. For me, that was huge, and I didn’t even realize it because it’s all I knew growing up, but now looking back, I think it’s a huge advantage for young girls.”