Study: Sex Sells in Advertising, but not with Female Athletes


With the Olympics underway, all eyes will be focused on gold medal winners, but after the games, who will get most of the endorsements?

A new study, by researchers at the University of Delaware and published in the Journal of Brand Strategy, says that female athletes [compared to men] are rarely used as spokespersons for companies, and when they are, companies often fail to use them effectively.

While a brand might hype a male athlete’s strength or agility in a commercial, advertisers play up female athletes’ sexuality [i.e. Hope Solo]. reports:

For example, the 2009 ‘Got Milk?’ ad featuring swimmer Dara Torres in a skimpy bathing suit did not impress. “Respondents suggested this was a poor image for an outstanding athlete who achieved so much while raising a family,” the authors said. “Featuring Dara Torres as a middle-aged single mother, able to balance family with work commitments, might be more effective than highlighting her physical attractiveness at age 40.”


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