Ashley Milne-Tyte picked up on that fact after a moment of appreciation for a Lowe's ad about a woman laying tiles in her bathroom, and reported on it for Marketplace. Its rareness belies the fact that 44 percent of women over 18 are single, per Milne-Tyte's reporting.
One of her interviewees, Melanie Notkin of SavvyAuntie.com, gets right to the point:
America seems to talk to all grown-ups as we're part of an intimate family of a mom, a dad and kids. Single people tend not to be spoken to or tend not to be part of the conversation.
Not to mention that marketers mostly talk to men and women as if they are all heterosexual and participants in a traditional nuclear family arrangement. You might think that this has changed in increments, but exceptions are hard to find. (And don't bother typing "single women" and "commercial" into YouTube — you'll just get a lot of escort ads. Just another reminder of where the marketing community sees unpartnered women.)
Advertising executive Stephanie Holland also has a succinct assessment of why this is the case: Men still run advertising. "Men have a difficult time distinguishing even among moms, much less coming in and understanding the single female," she told Marketplace.
Milne-Tyte did manage to unearth the Chevy Malibu commercial above. A girl breezily ditches a lackluster date with the help of her best friend (her black best friend, to be precise). Rather than grimly ending up alone, the two of them gleefully zoom off together (in a Chevy Malibu).
As a commenter on the Marketplace piece points out, the same general exclusion of single adults applies to politics, where the rhetoric is still all about the American family as it is traditionally construed. But if advertising is selling some sort of ideal, it's clear that the people making the images believe that there is nothing less desirable than doing it yourself or with friends.
No Advertising Love For Single Women [Marketplace]