By Zac Cornell
Procter & Gamble’s Secret deodorant brand has partnered with Serena Williams to advance gender equality in sports. The brand is launching the ‘All Strength No Sweat’ campaign, and is committing an additional $1 million to support gender equality after donating $1 million towards addressing the issue last year. The company announced that “as the archetype of strength, determination and perseverance to achieve her goals and break records, Williams offers her unique experience and perspective as a female athlete and change agent.”
Williams stated, “It’s very important to me that I use my platform to bring attention to the many issues faced by women in sports and to call for meaningful change. The Secret brand has been answering that very call for years by taking real action to support female athletes.” Williams continued, “Sports changed my life and I feel compelled to continue giving back to ensure a brighter future for women in sports. I am incredibly honored to join forces with Secret and look forward to partnering closely to further the fight for gender equality for all athletes.”
Secret has made gender equality in sports the focus of their marketing campaign. Last year’s $1 million donation was spread among a number of programs, including $529,000 to the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players’ Association to help close the pay gap with the men’s team and the purchase and donation of 9,000 tickets for National Women’s soccer games in an effort to boost attendance and revenue for the league. Money was also donated to the Girls Leading Girls organization to support the next generation of female athletes. Finally, Secret created a Super Bowl advertisement featuring U.S. soccer stars Carli Lloyd and Crystal Dunn which played off this past summer’s viral video of Lloyd kicking a 55-yard field goal during the Philadelphia Eagles training camp. The commercial promoted the hashtag #KickInEquality. Lloyd said, “I know that after I kicked my field goal at the Eagles’ practice, the amount of female kickers, whether in high school or college, sending videos or tweeting at me, it was incredible. You know, I had no idea that there were that many female kickers out there.” Lloyd recognizes that there has been a recent shift in society. “There’s all this conversation about breaking barriers and being able to have the opportunity — the same opportunities that men have — and it is great. I had a lot of messages of young girls saying, `I want to play in the NFL now,′ which was really cool.”
Williams partnership with the brand will begin with a study on “Gender Inequality in Sports” to explore gender bias and how it manifests in sports from high school to professional levels. Their goal is to identify where they can best target their spending in order to affect tangible change.
There is evidence that increased promotion and exposure of women’s sports translates into more popularity, attendance and revenue. After Australia made an effort to increase television coverage and promote positive media exposure of female athletes and women’s sports, there was an almost 50% increase in Australians’ interest in women’s sports, according to a survey conducted by Commonwealth Bank. In addition, more young girls were encouraged to play sports, proving a clear trickle down effect. Let’s hope that the same results will be seen here in the U.S. and the rest of the world.