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Fox Sports’ netball ad campaign completely misses the mark

Fox Sports has released a video to promote the ANZ Netball Championships, but instead of just focusing on the physical prowess and the skill it takes to play the fast-paced game, they’ve emphasised violence with an image of a star player with a black and bloodshot eye.

Anyone who has stepped on to a netball court, donned one of the brightly coloured bibs and grabbed and leaped their way to goal-shooting glory knows that netball is as fast-paced and difficult a sport as they come. It’s taxing on the body, with all those quick stops and huge leaps, and it takes immense physical strength to keep up with the pace of the game.

It looked like Fox Sports’ netball ad was really onto something with their latest ad campaign, with images of women leaping and running with the words “Like a Girl” splashed across the screen, reminding people that doing anything like a girl is fierce and powerful. Running like a girl is a compliment, not a cop out.

But the problem came in the last few frames of the video, when Diamonds star, Sharni Layton, looks straight into the camera with a black and bloodshot eye, along with the words, “Play Like a Girl.”

Layton’s battered game face wasn’t for show, either; it was the result of a clash at training. Good on her for not wanting to cover up the battle scars from a training session, but how worrying is it to see a battered woman’s face be one of the key components of an advertising campaign about a non-contact sport?

ANZ Championship Netball – Play Like a Girl from Tiffany Field on Vimeo.

Video: Tiffany Field/Vimeo

Netball champion, Liz Ellis, says she’s a fan of the ad, saying, “I’m going to show my hand early and say I love it. It’s no secret that I relish watching a good contest for possession, and one of my favourite things about netball is the commitment of strong, tough and uncompromising athletes to get their hands to the ball first. Finally we have an ad campaign that matches that.”

While it seems the strictly no-contact sport has evolved to a place where some contact is tolerated on the court by players and umpires alike, it seems like the ad promotes violence rather than athleticism. In women’s sport, there always has to be a novelty to get the viewers engaged, whether that be a bikini, a good-looking performer or even a battered face and a black eye.

I think it’s safe to say men who are battered and bruised aren’t used in sport marketing campaigns. They look capable, tough, talented and strong. And so did the women in the ANZ Championship ad — until the last few frames highlighted Layton’s bruised face over her talent.

What do you think about the ad campaign? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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