|Olympic hopefuls Jessica Ennis, Kerrie-Anne Payne and Victoria Pendleton in a beauty-product promotion.|
As the world knows, the Olympics are coming to London this summer, and there seems to be no getting away from the event. Credit card companies, sports clothing manufacturers, even haircare and logistics firms are jumping on the advertising bandwagon: everyone wants a piece of the enormous money-making potential provided by the Games.
Of course, sportsmen have long been chosen to promote products, for the simple fact that fans want to emulate their heroes: therefore, anything they endorse will sell. The London 2012 campaigns have not strayed from this tried-and-tested path: however, the term ‘sportsmen’ is particularly significant. David Beckham, Usain Bolt and Roger Federer (amongst many others) have become almost ubiquitous in the past few years, due to their myriad high-profile advertising campaigns, for sportswear and other items. Whilst a few female athletes (e.g. Denise Lewis and Maria Sharapova) have achieved similar recognition, sports superstardom has tended to be a male-dominated arena, regardless of ability or success in one’s field.
However, the recent drive for Olympic advertising seems to be quietly ushering in a new age, as many of its star players are women. Cyclist Victoria Pendleton, track and field athlete Jessica Ennis, BMX biker Shenaze Read, and many more of their peers are now big news in terms of advertising. Whilst critics have questioned the dignity of such promotions, I think the critics are missing an important point. Sport has been commercialised for a long, long time: these women aren’t breaking any rules.
What this all really means is that female athletes are finally being recognised as legitimate role models and heroines in their own right. After years of being sidelined in favour of their male counterparts, our women athletes’ aspiration qualities are at last being recognised, and who can blame them for making the most of it? After all, sponsorship deals mean more money for equipment and training facilities, which in turn lead to better results, and more medals.
The girls have always been as good as the boys: it’s about time that the world was reminded of it.
Girl Museum Inc.