The Comm and Gender Spot

Monday, September 05, 2005


As the second week of tennis' U.S. Open begins, I want to reflect back on some recent advertising strategies used by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA).

For those that do not know, my recent research interests are in how people process messages about sports. More specifically, I am really interested in how men and women process messages from sports that feature female athletes as compared to sports that feature male athletes. While my primary focus thus far has been television sports, I do have some cursory interest in sports advertising.

Here is a recent print advertisement used by the WTA featuring one of the best female tennis players in the world, Venus Williams. What message is such an advertisement trying to put forth? It appears to me that it is playing into the stereotypes that have plagued women for many years. The association is made between women being gossips as much as it is making a connection between women's ability to play good tennis.

And we know that such advertisements would never be made if the focus was on a male tennis player. Can you imagine what would happen if such an ad featured Andy Roddick or Andre Agassi?

Viewing ads like this really do make me wonder how the encountering of such advertisements featuring female athletes impacts individuals, particularly young girls and women, when it comes to what they believe about their athletic abilities and the abilities of other women.


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