Can women be in ads without someone yelling foul?

The Huffington Post has an article which points to a couple of University Egg Heads writing a paper bemoaning the fact female athletes get less endorsement deals for a few reasons.

The first being sexualization. It doesn't appeal to the target market. The second, according to the article, is the fact that a lot of the female athletes being used are Olympians, and therefore only "relevant" every four years or so. The article points to the Got Milk ad featuring Olympic Medalist Dana Torres in a bikini. The researchers write:

"Featuring Dara Torres as a middle-aged single mother, able to balance family with work commitments, might be more effective than highlighting her physical attractiveness at age 40."

Yes. Because apparently the calcium in milk is very effective at helping middle-aged single moms juggle their work-life balance. As opposed to building strong bones. Which allows you to swim better. Since Dan Torres is a SWIMMER. Last time I checked, you generally adorn yourself in swim wear whilst swimming.

And I know this isn't relative to your paper, but trying to make a claim that milk helps you juggle your life is not only stupid, it's opening the door for a potential lawsuit. You can't promise something you can't legally deliver.

My point is, if you bemoan the fact there aren't enough female athletes being represented in ads, and then get upset when a swimmer is posing in a swim suit, it's a bit hypocritical.

Look. you can argue the fact the Got Milk ad above sucks donkey balls because of its atrocious photoshopping/retouching. The double punnage doesn't help and Dairy Torres is enough grounds for a lawsuit. And I would agree. from an art and copy standpoint the ad sucks.

And you can argue correctly that women, especially young women, need better examples of role models when it comes to advertising. And I would agree. And Adland's CEO Dabitch has pointed this out before when it comes to sports.

But it's getting to the point whenever a woman appears in an ANY ad, someone is getting upset. Either they're too sexy looking or not realistic looking, or not "healthy" looking, or too athletic, or not modern enough or not "something."

The point is, there are all types of women out there. But now, even the ones crying foul in the name of feminism are starting to shoehorn all women into some role only they have deemed appropriate. We need to be as mindful of this as we do those in media whose sole purpose out there is to solely objectify women.

And Ivory Tower eggheads who wrote this paper: you probably don't spend enough time watching TV. Thankfully Adland is here to help you see there are in fact female athletes being depicted in advertising in a way that is appropriate for all. I.E., as athletes. And not just famous ones, either. We'll add more as time permits. And before you moan the fact there are only a few clients here, adidas, Nike and Gatorade are global spenders, thank you very much.

Gatorade G Series - Own the First Move - (2012) :30 (USA) (With Hope Solo.)

Nike Free: I would run to you.

Nike Print Ads here.

Adidas -Ali vs Ali - long (2004) 0:60 (USA)

Here's one from this Olympics, supporting the hard working middle aged moms who support their olympic daughters.

P&G Celebrate Moms - Best Job - London Olympics 2012 - 2:00

One oldie even making fun of the old stereotype. And by 'oldie,' i mean 2004.

Nike Women - Nike Shox - Catch Me (2004) 0:30 (USA)

How bout this one from last year? Again debunking stereotypes.

Nike Women - Free Yourself / Beat that (2011)

Oh and we even have our own for this category. See? it's not all doom and gloom.

about the author

kidsleepy CD copywriter with 18 years experience who has worked in many cities including New York, Atlanta, Montreal and currently Los Angeles. I snark because I care.

Comments (1)

  • Dabitch's picture

    Familiar with the WIN awards, had a good discussion going on here about it many moons ago with Ernie Schenk when he posted the provocative Whatever Happened To The Prime Directive?

    So where is the logic in The WIN Awards?

    But yes, lets get all worked up about a woman whose shoulders are a pick-axe wide, and whose thigh-muscles could break most mens necks witha simple squeeze. They be scary. All unfit women, lets stop her. If we gang up, it might even work.

    Aug 03, 2012