Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oh so that’s why I don’t get those Sonic ads.

While I always discuss with my students the fact that men and women do not think alike to explain why it is difficult to effectively address both genders in a campaign, I didn’t really have a handle on what those differences are.

Well according to a new study from Nielsen, men and women differ dramatically in what they consider to be funny.  Men like slapstick, edgy and sarcastic humor, while women like an off-beat approach that isn’t mean spirited.  They also found that men like normal guys in exaggerated situations in their commercials while women prefer happy situations that incorporate someone like them.  (Goetzl, 2012)

For years I have been watching the Sonic commercials and wondering how their customers could relate to ads that portray them as idiots.  Now I realize that I was looking at them from a female perspective when they were clearly designed for men.  No wonder I didn’t get it.  But on the other hand 58% of the chain’s customers are women.  Is it a coincidence that sales declined in 2009 and 2010?  (Smith, 2011)

And now that they have rebounded, why has Sonic decided to revive that campaign?  I do not think that their female customers will be amused.


Goetzl, D. (2012, September 14).  Humor In Ads: Laughs Fall Along Gender Lines.  Retrieved September 20, 2012, from

Smith, D. (2011, August)  A Sonic Rebound.  Retrieved September 20, 2012, from

1 comment:

  1. While I completely agree that men and women look for a different kind of underdog in their respective commericals, I have never understood or related to the Sonic campaign.

    I think the emotional tone that Sonic (and most commercials featuring married men)touches on is the idea of offering an escape for the married man from being henpecked. When women are featured in the ads, the man/husband is always shown to be the "Stupid" one, reinforcing this childish ideal that he is somehow in "trouble"