Walter Iooss Jr., the sports photographer behind Hunky Dorys’ new advertising campaign has described it thus, “Entitled, "Football", the campaign presents a unique take on the kicking, passing and tackling in a football match.” To paraphrase Iooss, it’s sexy when women bend over.
We’ve all seen the new Huky Dorys ads featuring scantily clad women playing GAA plastered on billboards and bus-stops. We’ve thought, that’s a bit cheeky Hunky Dorys…wasn’t your last remarkably similar 2010 campaign banned by the Advertising Standards Authority? Of course, sex sells and advertisers are constantly churning out images of scantily clad women. What is so bad about these Hunky Dorys campaigns?
Two diametrically opposed images of sport dominate in Ireland right now. Both involve Gaelic football but differ in the gender of the players featured. The men’s All-Ireland Final which took place on the 18th of September generated a plethora of images of male GAA players, the most striking of which was produced by the league sponsor, Ulster Bank, and shows a Dublin and a Kerry player going head to head. These ads urge us to consider the men shown as honourable sporting heroes, deserving of respect and admiration.
The images of the female GAA players, featured in the current Hunky Dorys campaign invoke a wholly different response – a seedy ogling on the one hand and a righteous indignation on the other. Countless forum threads are again riddled with comments like, ‘maybe if the players looked like this, more people would watch women’s sport’. Maybe more people would watch, but would they be spectating or ‘starring’, as per one Hunky Dorys tagline, ‘Still Starring?’ This echoes last year’s ‘Are you staring at my crisps?’ printed under the ample bust of a young woman bend forward into the camera.
This is the ‘unique take on…tackling’ that Iooss has captured in these campaigns. It’s the idea that female sportspeople don’t deserve the same respect and admiration as their male counter-parts. In fact, the only thing they have a chance of inspiring is sexual desire, so they might as well strip off and start posing. Still sexism? Yes it is.
The juxtaposition of the All Ireland Final and Hunky Dorys ad campaigns obviously sends worrying messages. It’s in this context that we should call on the Advertising Standards Authority to ban the Hunky Dorys campaign yet again. In the meantime, if you’re interested in seeing female GAA players portrayed with the respect they truly deserve, log onto http://ladiesgaelic.ie/.
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