Monthly Archives: August 2011

Scholar Andrew Hughes on Women Sport in Australia

Andrew Hughes is a School of Management, Marketing & International Business lecturer at the Australian National University. He has written an article about the marketing of women in sport in Australia in 2011.

In his article he explains that most Australian sports women focus their marketing around sex appeal. This has been a trend in the marketing of Australian women for years. But is it time to change this marketing approach?

Hughes wants women sport to focus their marketing on the sport and not on the athlete. It’s about time that the sport is in focus in a country like Australia where sport is so important. Women do not longer need the calendars and men’s magazine ads.

The smarter athletes have realised the limitations of pure sex appeal and now focus on offering a personal brand that is attractive, intelligent and an excellent role model with on field and off field behaviour (Andrew Hughes).

An increasing number of female athletes are marketing their brand and moving away from sex appeal. Many of these athletes are Australian.

Hurdler and Olympic medallist Sally Pearson, cricketer and soccer player Ellyse Perry, basketballer Lauren Jackson and tennis player Samantha Stosur all are great examples of athletes that market their brand as a complete package (Andrew Hughes).

Netball is the best marketed women sport in Australia. A bank like ANZ does not want any negativity from their sponsorships and that’s why netball is such a good fit. When was the last time you heard of a netballer going clubbing and getting into trouble? Thought so.

So what women sport in Australia needs to do is to move away from sex appeal marketing and start to market the entire brand of the sport itself.

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Publishers of Women Sport in Australia

Sporting Sheilas is a website promoting Australia’s women’s national sport teams. They have their own Facebook page, their own YouTube channel and they are using del.icio.us to bookmark news articles they find on the web.

Last liked video of Sporting Sheilas on YouTube.

Sporting Sheilas also have their own blog but this hasn’t been updated since 14 February 2010. Their blog Women’s Sport Blog has very few comments. Most of the posts have no comments what so ever. This may have been a wake up call for the people writing the blog. What’s the point in writing a blog if no one reads it? Or maybe they had a few readers but no one was willing to start a discussion about the topics raised.

It looks like Sporting Sheilas understood that there was no point in updating their blog. So instead they spent their time updating their Facebook page and bookmarking news articles using del.icio.us. They figured out that this was what their audience wanted.

The Women’s Game is a website promoting women’s football (soccer) in Australian and overseas. At the moment they are upgrading their website and will re-launch it early in September. They also have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. It is their Twitter account they are using to give their audience the latest news. They have their Twitter account connected to their Facebook page so all their tweets go up on their Facebook page as well. This is very clever because you get your content published on two separate media outlets by only writing it once. Timesaving!

It’s important to interact with your audience and that’s what The Women’s Game is doing on Twitter. You also have to think about using different platforms like YouTube and Facebook. Bookmarking articles on the web is a good way of facilitating your audience.

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Women in Sport

In Ancient times, women were not allowed to either watch or participate in physical activity. Back then a woman had to be passive and obedient to be attractive to her male friends. Traditionally sport has been dominated by men. It has even been argued that sport was harmful to women. But with the 1960s women’s liberation movement this attitude changed dramatically when women demanded gender equality.

Although women were getting more and more involved in sport from the 1960s, there is still a long way to go. Numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that there are more men than women participating in organised sport and physical activity (29% of males compared with 24% of females).

Australia is a nation extremely interested in sport. But it’s usually male sport that get talked about and get the media coverage. Women in sport are struggling to get media coverage.

Australian snowboarder Torah Bright. Creator: VancityAllie

The research project, Towards a Level Playing Field, undertaken by the Australian Sports Commission in 2008-09 shows the media coverage of sport to be overwhelmingly male dominated. Only 9% of all sport coverage in Australian television news media was coverage of women in sport.

Media coverage is crucial for any sport, and for female sport to grow it needs more coverage in the media. Young girls need female role models to look up to. They need to see that women can make it as elite athletes.

The Australian Sports Commission understands how important it is to promote women in sport and has made it “a key focus area for the future development of sport in Australia”. This shows that we’re moving in the right direction in Australia and it will be exciting to see the results of this development in the years to come.

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