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Selling Sexy Soccer in 2013

By Simon Allen




LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: Christine Sinclair of Canada celebrates after receiving the bronze medal after the Women's Football gold medal match on Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium on August 9, 2012 in London, England
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: Christine Sinclair of Canada celebrates after receiving the bronze medal after the Women's Football gold medal match on Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium on August 9, 2012 in London, England

Bell spokesperson Marie-Eve Francoeur said “(Bell) understand that (The Whitecaps) are an exuberant new team eager to get the word out, but this marketing effort didn't fit with Bell's expectation.” So sexualizing an entire soccer "brand" may have worked with the folks who were already fans of the team but how many new fans it actually created is up for debate.

Did soccer fans want to come out and watch the team play after watching the advertisement? Tom Yawney who wrote for unsportsmanlike.ca said “It’s just a painted naked chick holding a ball, what does this have to do with anything. Is she the mascot? Will she be performing at half-time? What is the deal? And why do they play that classy music in the background like it was some profound moment? Is a naked chick painted in a soccer jersey…trashy? Yes…classy? No. I can think of a million things I want to do after that video, and watch a soccer game is not on the list.”

So the sexualization of a brand didn't make Yawney rush off to buy season tickets. I don't blame him. The Vancouver Whitecaps are a damn good organization and I'm sure they knew moving forward that this wasn't the way to go to promote the team.

Of course cheesy ad campaigns featuring a bit of  “T n A”' are nothing new in American Soccer. Every generation of soccer ad-men thinks he's a genius when it comes to the sexualization of the sport. Back in 1983, Doug Verb, the Executive Vice-President of the MISL's Chicago Sting told Sports Illustrated “I used to say we were three S's...” Talking about selling the sport to Americans, “...Speed, Scoring and Skill. Now I say it's four S's, with Sex too.” It was an idea used throughout the MISL.

The radio ad campaigns reflected that philosophy with the Pittsburgh Spirit using “Hot legs, hot time, hot action – just too hot to handle...Pittsburgh Spirit...We have 20 guys in shorts who can go all night” as an honest to goodness campaign to get more people to watch their brand of soccer. It didn't quite work in 1983 and probably won't work in 2013.