Empowered Storytelling Geared Toward Women Is a Winning Combo for Super Bowl Ads, Baylor Expert Says

January 30, 2019
Tyrha Lindsey-Warren

Tyrha Lindsey-Warren, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of marketing in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business, studies consumer behavior and attitudes, multicultural media and advertising, and movies and entertainment. (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)

Media Contact: Eric M. Eckert, 254-710-1964
Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricBaylorU
Follow Baylor Media Communications on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (Jan. 30, 2019) – Television advertisers who have chosen to appeal to women fans and viewers during this weekend’s Super Bowl have committed their millions of dollars to a wise strategy, according to a Baylor University marketing and advertising expert.

Tyrha Lindsey-Warren, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of marketing in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, studies consumer behavior and attitudes, multicultural media and advertising, and movies and entertainment. Each year, she and her students analyze the Super Bowl ads. And each year, she said, she sees more ads geared toward women.

In fact, AdAge reports that brands like Bumble, Toyota and Procter & Gamble's Olay are featuring women in lead roles in their Super Bowl commercials this year.

“That’s smart,” Lindsey-Warren said. “The current and future market power of women – as a whole and by segments – is undeniable and truly cannot be ignored by marketers.”

To make her point, she cited research showing that women influence more than 80 percent of all consumer spending; 89 percent of the financial decisions are made by women; and globally, women control more than $20 trillion in world-wide spending. In addition, nearly 24.3 million African American women are brand loyalists and cultural trendsetters who have influence over the $1.2 trillion dollars in black spending power.

Forbes reported in 2018 that “women constituted about 49 percent of the 108 million-plus people who watched” that year’s Super Bowl – and paid closer attention to the ads.

“Nowadays, whatever brands plan to do during the Super Bowl must be extremely strategic and well planned when commercials go for over $5 million dollars,” Lindsey-Warren said. “With the #metoo and #times up movements as well as the diversity and gender issues in advertising industry and more, I think brands struggle as to how they approach targeting women on such a global stage.”

She said brands that use “empowered storytelling” – storytelling that exudes the emotion of empowerment – make a difference. Good examples, she said, are Always’ “Like a Girl” commercial in 2015 and Audi’s “Daughter” commercial in 2017.

“In my research, especially among Millennials and Gen Z, this approach is a powerful combination for brands who want to increase purchase intentions for their products or services,” Lindsey-Warren said.

“The emotion of empowerment is multidimensional and promotes encouragement and can be extremely motivational,” she said. “When one is empowered, it can be an ‘aha’ moment and very transformational in a positive manner. In addition, empowered storytelling is a proactive approach to storytelling that demands you keep the receiver of the story in mind at every stage of the process because, at the end of the day, you want the receiver of the story to be better in some way for having received the empowered narrative they just viewed or experienced.”

And when consumers are empowered, they tend to tell others. In the digital space, this looks like sharing videos, posts, quotes and more on social media channels.

“Essentially, empowered storytelling gives brands the opportunity to achieve the right balance of entertaining and encouraging and, ultimately, healing by showing that they care for their consumers through the motivational messages and narratives they are producing,” Lindsey-Warren said.


Tyrha Lindsey-Warren, Ph.D., is a marketing scholar, business executive, artist and entrepreneur. As a consumer behavior scholar, her research is rooted in narrative transportation theory (i.e., storytelling) that exudes the emotion of empowerment and its impact on consumer attitudes, behaviors, purchase intention and message recall. She also studies health edutainment, multicultural media and advertising, as well as movies and entertainment. Lindsey-Warren is an expert in effective communications strategies for leaders, multicultural communications and marketing. Her latest research, “An Examination of Television Consumption By Racial and Ethnic Audiences in the U.S.,” was published in the Journal of Advertising Research. She will be discussing this study during panel discussions in New York City and Los Angeles for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business provides a rigorous academic experience, consisting of classroom and hands-on learning, guided by Christian commitment and a global perspective. Recognized nationally for several programs, including Entrepreneurship and Accounting, the school offers 24 undergraduate and 13 graduate areas of study. Visit www.baylor.edu/business and follow on Twitter at twitter.com/Baylor_Business.