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

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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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