If you just looked at the pre-World Cup advertising, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the tournament in Brazil is aimed solely at the men, but football is very much alive and well among women. As with the majority of football-related advertising, female fans could be forgiven for feeling a little insulted, especially considering the fact that during the last World Cup, 43% of live match viewers were women.
In a series of commercials run by car manufacturer Kia in America, Brazilian model Adriana Lima uses her charms to try and tempt men to watch a month of football they were probably already going to watch. In one scene, our heroine drives onto a football pitch, to the surprise of a group of randy teenage boys, grabs their ball (singular) and seductively claims, “In my country, this is called futebol.”
The Kia commercial wasn’t unique in the run up to the tournament, providing an insight into the minds of advertisers looking to use the stereotypes associated with Brazilian women, mainly as pretty side-salads next to the men’s main meal of football. Adidas rightly came in for some criticism for releasing a t-shirt with the message, “Lookin’ to Score in Brazil” (alongside a drawing of a smiling, bikini-clad woman), while another announced, “I heart Brazil” with the shape of the heart creatively used to show off a Brazilian lady’s shapely bottom.
In a country where football has long been a male-dominated sport, Brazil’s women have been slowly making their mark in the game, with the country’s main star Marta widely considered to be one of the best in the world. But despite being held in such high regard in the women’s game, Marta is rarely seen on billboards and commercials, with companies still far less keen to use a female player in their campaigns than one of the country’s male stars.