A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon this article on using female models in sports apparel campaigns. It resonated with my on a deep level, here’s how I feel about some of the points brought up in the piece.
The basic premise of the article on Racked is that celebrities starring in campaigns for sports apparel brands is a regrettable development. Some of its main arguments and my thoughts on them include:
- Using celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Bella Hadid just doesn’t make any sense in terms of pure content: while these women have attractive bodies by some standards, they just don’t compare to true professional athletes who are ultra fit and have toned muscles.
- Using professional female athletes to wear this apparel would appear far more authentic and compelling. These are the people that are actually wearing the clothes and shoes and using these items in the environments they were made for. Of course this isn’t entirely true in the case of more lifestyle oriented items, a market these sports brands are heavily invested in
- Most importantly, by preferring celebrities and influencers over actual athletes, these women working hard to be the best at what they do are missing out. Making a full time living as an athlete is extremely hard for many of these women, and with major sports labels looking elsewhere to find suitable models for their campaigns, a huge source of income has simply evaporated.
- A rather interesting observation in the article is that this trend is not at all present for these female athletes’ male counterparts. When promoting a campaign using male models, brands will pretty much opt for actual athletes like 99% of the time. What’s more, many examples come to mind of male athletes promoting non sports related brands – take Fernando Torres starring in the Balr campaign for instance.
Naturally, I understand that these brands may not feel morally obligated to do what’s best for these female athlete, and instead do what’s best for the brand’s bottom line and marketing efforts. We’re living in the age of influencer marketing (though that bubble may be about to burst), and signing these female celebrities is an easy way to generate publicity. Still, I feel that brands could really make a difference and stand out by staying true to their original values and the passion for sports that inspired them.
On a more personal level, I will always strive for my photos to be true to the person, brand and sport. It just doesn’t feel right to bring in a model who has no experience with or passion for the activity related to the brand she is promoting. Instead, I feel that both my own photography and marketing on a larger scale would benefit hugely from – excusez le mot – keeping it real.
For more on how I think about this subject, do check out these previous blog posts:
- Why Under Armour’s Michael Phelps video is my favourite sports spot ever
- Product placement in visual storytelling
- Visual storytelling done right: Nike’s equality campaign