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Advertising has been recognized as a form of art, which involves huge financial implications. The marketing companies spends millions of dollars on advertising campaigns, to appeal to their potential customers. Hence, these companies are always in the endeavor to attract their customers with appealing advertisements, which they think would act as potential brand endorsements (Ohanian 39-52). Advertising campaigns are an integral part of promotion and marketing, and their appeal is well established. Various celebrities and sport stars are used as iconic personalities to endorse the brands or products of various companies. The objective of using them in such campaigns is to exploit their popularity and face value. Whenever a prospective client finds a renowned personality endorsing a specific brand, his or her reliability and authenticity on the brand increases. In this article, the point of argument would be “Whether advertising is good or bad for female athletes”. Hence, the article would analyze the pros and cons of advertisements. Further, it would portray whether female athletes or sports stars should feature in advertisement campaigns.
In this world of cut-throat competition, the success of a product not only depends upon the quality or credibility of the product, but the people behind the product are equally important. Whether in the consumer segment, pharmaceutical segment or financial segment, aggressive marketing strategies have been deployed by almost all companies. Such strategies include marketing personnel, sales force and use of celebrities to promote a particular brand, product or service. Advertisements are a key instrument that determines the success of any marketing campaign. Advertisements can have many forms. Either it can be directly oriented towards a customer by providing an opportunity to evaluate the product through samples, or it may involve robust media presence through endorsement by celebrities. The bottom line of all advertisement campaigns is to increase the visibility of the product in the market.
Apart from visibility advertisement provides an opportunity to understand the features and benefits of a product before it is used by the prospective customers. They become aware of the quality and the cost of the product and help them to plan their purchase. When the potentials consumers find that renowned personalities are behind a particular brand, they are convinced regarding the credibility and quality of a product. As long as the advertisement campaigns portray the justified qualities of a product, they can be considered good (Schrank). However, when the claims are inflated and false, they can be considered bad. Advertising can help to benefit social causes or minimize health risks. For example, the risk of cancer associated with cancer was projected through advertisement in mass media itself (Shaw & Stuart).
This is because people trust celebrities, and if they stand behind a claim that is false, the common mass is not only cheated but they can become prone to various health hazards. Moreover, advertisement involves huge financial implications and increases the cost of a product. Hence, from the purview of cost effectiveness, advertisements are bad. They impose additional financial burden on the prospective customers. Advertisements also provide an opportunity for various personalities to generate alternative sources of financial gains, and these personalities are paid hefty amounts for endorsing a particular product or service. Hence, on this issue advertisements can be viewed as good on the economic aspects of these celebrities.
However, the fact remains that all celebrities are not selected for endorsing a brand. Such selections depend on their popularity and credibility in the eyes of common people. The popularity can be related to the “looks,” “personality” or their athletic capabilities. As far as the capabilities of such persons are used in brand endorsements, advertisements can be considered good. This is because the credibility of a celebrity can be directly correlated to the credibility of a product. However, an advertisement campaign stresses more on the “looks” concerning female celebrities.
Whether from the field of films or sports, attractive personalities are used more than people who do not have such attracting power or glamor. This differentiation based on “looks” of a person is really bad and humiliating. An athlete or a sports star must be projected by his or her athletic performance and not by “looks.” However, the fact remains, that these athletes are used more as sex-symbols, than their field capabilities. Whether advertisements are good or bad, they are an inevitable and integral part of any marketing campaign.
Sports are a popular field of entertainment all across the world. The sports stars and sports personalities enjoy a great popularity all across the world, without any demographical barriers. Such personalities are worshiped just like God, and the craze of the general population regarding them is no less than film stars. Therefore, it is quite obvious that due to their ability to attract a wider population, they are used in various brand endorsement campaigns. However most of the times they are selected due to their “looks”. This issue in advertising is really bad and should not be entertained. The use of such personalities and their status regarding their utility in sports are discussed through two recent articles.
In the article “Turns out Women Want Athletes to Look like Athletes, Not Sex Symbols” written by Maggie Mertens, the author reflected that women athletes who looked in a “certain way,” were used more for brand endorsements. The “looks” of a female athlete were given priority over her athletic capabilities, for selecting them as brand ambassadors. She highlighted that female athletes with “certain looks,” signed hefty contracts compared to other female athletes. There is a clear demarcation of financial gains of such athletes, compared to athletes, who are only known for their athletic capabilities. She stressed that athletic capabilities are a secondary issue for selecting female athletes, for brand endorsements (Mertens). The author mentioned that Billie Jean King, a renowned athlete, struggled to get even one endorsement deal. On the other hand, she highlighted that sports stars like Chris Evert Llyod, or Maria Sharapova have earned millions from their endorsement deals. However, Professor Janet Fink, an Associate Professor in the Department of Sports Management, University of Massachusetts, does not endorse the projection of female athletes as ‘Sex-symbols” in advertisement campaigns. He believes that athletic skills or sporting skills are the main features of a female athlete, and such qualities should be used for brand endorsements. He mentioned that if an athlete is a non-performer, the “looks” would not be enough for endorsing brands (Mertens).
In another article “Driver to Divas: advertising images of women in motorsport” written by Sally R. Ross, and others, the authors expressed the importance of attractiveness and athletic expertise, for ensuring brand endorsements. These two attributes may be combined or independently assessed, for selecting female athletes in advertisement campaigns. In contrary to other fields of sports, motor sports have always projected female athletes based on their sporting potential in advertisement campaigns (Ross, Ridinger & Cuneen 204). The authors cited the example of Danica Patrick.
Danica Patrick and her advertising team recognized that attractiveness cannot be the sole criteria of selecting female athletes for brand endorsements. This is because it is the athletic performance, which would be linked to the credibility and reliability of the product by the prospective customers (Ohanian 46-53). The authors were optimistic because if motor sport stars can be accepted in endorsement deals, personalities from different sporting activities may also be accepted (Ross, Ridinger & Cuneen 204).
Celebrities from the field of motor sports whether males or females have been used as iconic figures for endorsing various brands. However, attractiveness was not the criteria for selecting them in the endorsement programs. What was interesting was that even female sport stars were selected based on speed and power involved in motor sports. They are never used as sex-symbols, as with their counterparts in another field of sports.. In fact, the nature of formula one racing is power and speed, and the personality of a celebrity remains hidden in her sports attire. Thus, the people have a perception that performance on the track is more important than their “looks” because the common people are not exposed to their looks due to the nature of the sporting event. All said and done; this should encourage sport stars from other fields too, where capabilities get a priority. This will not only help to maintain their self-respect and dignity but will also help to provide them with financial support that might not be possible with only their athletic profession.
It is to be noted that female athletes are less paid in their field, and their financial aspects are lower than their male counterparts. However, exceptions do exist, and it cannot be considered as a rule. Mertens (2013), in her article, revealed that the female NBA basketball players were underpaid, and even their salaries were comparable to primary school teachers. This was a huge jeopardy when the salaries and earning potential of male basketball players were compared. It might happen that the nature of sports demands robustness, power, skills and speed and by the virtue of physical and physiological advantage men’s basketball are popular than female’s basketball. That is the reason, why such female sport stars do not get endorsement deals compared to their male counterparts. They perhaps may become eligible for such deals if they are attractive.
From the above discussions, it may be concluded that advertisements are good as long as they feature the proper credibility and viability of a product without any false claims. Moreover, advertisements could be considered “good,” if it provides the adequate respect and earning potential for female athletes too, compared to their male counter parts. It should be noted that under any circumstances the female athletes should not be discriminated on the basis f their ‘looks” which is not only inhuman but an act of loss of self-respect to them. If motor sport stars can show the way of preserving female dignity, with the ability to get endorsement deals, there is no reason to believe why other female athletes should fail to do so. However, the suitable strategy would be to inculcate both “looks” and capabilities in advertisement campaigns, but “capabilities” must be given priority over “looks”, while selecting a female athlete for endorsement campaigns.
Works Cited
Mertens, Maggie. “Turns out Women Want Athletes to Look like Athletes, Not Sex
Symbols”. 4 September 2013. Web. 5 November 2015.
Ohanian, R. “Construction and validation of a scale to measure celebrity endorser’s perceived
expertise, trustworthiness and attractiveness.” Journal of Advertising Research,
19.1(1990): 39-52. Print
Ohanian, R. “The impact of celebrity spokespersons’ perceived image on consumers’
intention to purchase.” Journal of Advertising Research, 31.1(1991):46-53. Print
Ross, S; Ridinger, L; & Cuneen, J. “Driver to Divas: advertising images of women in
motorsport” International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, 10.3(2009):
204. Print
Schrank, J. “Deception Detection”. Boston: Beacon Press, 1975.
Shaw,E & Stuart, A. “Cigarettes”. The Advertising Age, Encyclopedia of Advertising. Ed
John McDonough and Karen Egolf, 3 vols. New York: Fitzray Dearborn, 2003.