Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Men Play, Women Talk?

I've been browsing youtube & google video for soccer commercials featuring women - esp those featuring freestyle or just play. I noticed that the few Nike ads featuring women (USNWT) almost never show actual play. This is curious - given the much loved the Nike Joga Bonito ads - which, along with fifastreet ads, form their own viral video kingdom. There isn't much talking in *those* ads - mostly just awesome footwork.

Adidas did a little better with a 2003 Women's World Cup ad (pictured above) that presented a distinctly American nightmare of the Chinese national team (actually, some players & lots of stunt women) doing acrobatic tricks with the ball in unison (with no apparent awareness of the stereotypes invoked). There was an old Gatorade series animated by a searing goal or two from Mia Hamm - way back in 2000? (I'm guessing.) Brandi Chastain did something between a commercial and personal profile for Tailwind (a Nike line), in which we watch her juggle while she's talking (part of a series profiling women on the USNWT). Chastain's ad left me wanting to see more - she was so casual, in that way people with a great sense of touch can be - keeping the ball up, moving it from foot to shoulder to knee seems to take no concentration at all. Like talking with your hands, except you are using your whole body, and a ball.

None of the more recent Nike ads have much actual soccer in them. They are talky, defensive, full of cute jokes about "the greatest team you've never heard of", that do very little to demonstrate why anyone should be hearing about them. (See! They have a sense of humor! Totally not threatening!) It's funny how sexism can be the topic of an ad campaign that nevertheless goes on to repeat some of the problems in mass media coverage of women's soccer (focus on everything but the actual physical talent of the athletes).

Fans do a better job - because they are splicing together their homages from game footage. There's an impressive German montage of greatest goals by women's players (which goes back to the early 90s). There isn't a whole lot out there in the virtual ocean by way of Marta footage, but there is nevertheless a handful of great compilations, including some of her playing for Umea. Check out this one - Marta highlights set to death metal. I love soccer fans.

I have to say - even though it features no play, no footwork, I was really pleased to stumble on the following - an old ad featuring Julie Foudy getting a check up.


1 comment:

  1. hilarious, yes. I remember seeing the ad some time ago while at my gym, where I am the typically the lone middle-aged woman working out next to body builders. What I also recall was the response--the guys noting somewhat bitterly that woman never have to work as hard on their legs. I wasn't so sure what I thought. I was happy Ms Foudy was greeted by the doctor but wished for a tad more dialogue--if only to dispel entirely the "show dog" aspect. Oh well, always a critic.


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