Gisele, Rihanna Deals Signal End Of Endorsements For Actual Female Athletes
Under Armour has been named Ad Age's Marketer of the Year primarily for its novel approach marketing to women. The success Under Armour has enjoyed with its I Will campaign underscores why Title IX -- while generating lots of positive results -- has been an abject failure in reshaping opportunities for women in sports marketing and redefining the way our society treats and values women’s sports.
Now Puma has followed suit by signing Rhianna as the face of its women's fitness line and giving her the title of "creative director."
The starting point of all this is that women's sports get a fraction of the respect and audience that men's sports do. The media have not historically promoted or distributed women's sports. And most women athletes grew up looking up to male athletes as their "role model." Title IX was supposed to change all that. But while girls got to "play" instead of "cheer lead," our sports viewing habits did not change. Why? The reason is that, while schools had to change and let girls play sports, the media were allowed to continue their old ways of ignoring women’s sports. A primary reason why we do not perceive men and female athletes equally is that the media treat them like second-class citizens -- and advertisers only follow suit.
When it comes to male athletes, all that matters is whether you win at one of the major sports. The general rule is that if you are a winner -- the best in the business -- then you will be rewarded handsomely with endorsements or marketing deals (Shaq, Kobe, LeBron, Kevin Durant). In marked contrast, the sports brands realized over the years that you don't have to pay top women athletes the big bucks no matter what.