World cycling champion Victoria Pendleton and Olympic silver medallist Shelley Rudman have today launched ‘Girls4Gold’ - a mass recruitment drive for young athletic women by UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport, aimed to uncover hidden talent with the potential to rise to the podium at London 2012 and beyond.
Olympic TV Ads are re-enforcing the Girls For Gold Message
Over the past few weeks, British TV adverts have been hijacked by Olympic Fever: washing powders will protect your Olympic colours, finding the gold sweetie will win you prizes, and (somehow) even junk food is linked to achievement in sport.
The more cynical among us would see this as the inevitable cash-in on the nation’s excitement, an opportunity for sales companies to up their profits by tenuously linking their product to the world’s oldest sporting event. However, I have been more impressed by the positive messages that this sporting enthusiasm is sending to girls in the UK. At every ad break, we’re being encouraged to get active. Companies sponsoring the Games are offering free promotional sports activities and equipment so that we can “have a go” instead of just sitting on the sofa and watching others achieve.
This celebration of sport has particularly effected how women have been portrayed in our TV ads: young girls are shown participating in sports and the traditional TV mum is shown as nurturing the great sporting talents of the future. Most notably, there has been a shift in emphasis from beauty to strength as a key aspiration for girls. This has been most apparent in antiperspirant campaigns, since this is a product which has to acknowledge the unladylike fact that women do indeed sweat.
This is the proud proclamation of the Sure For Women Maximum Protection campaign. The women are shown as confident and unashamedly strong. Although the models used are attractive, they are not concerned with simply being beautiful. There is no cheesy, glaringly white grin or coquettish looks; instead there are physically fit women who are clearly comfortable being themselves.
Being encouraged to get fit and to be proud of our strength is certainly an advertising concept that Team Girl can get behind. I hope that this message of empowerment continues past the excitement of this summer’s Olympics and keeps our girls going for gold!
Girl Museum Inc.