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Since Friday evening when the Ladyball campaign was revealed as a teaser for Lidl’s new sponsorship of Ladies Gaelic Football we have been wrestling with our reaction to it.

First and foremost the news is good in that increased sponsorship and awareness from another major multinational brand is to be welcomed with open arms.  The tagline of #SeriousSupport sets an expectation which if met will make a significant impact on building further the parity of esteem in which sport should be held regardless of gender.

There is little detail thus far on what that support will entail but full page advertisements across the traditional print media over the weekend are not cheap and we can only assume that the amount of financial support going into the sport will be on a par, in whatever form that takes.

Secondly we have been conscious of not coming across as too serious, and missing out or ignoring the elements of the campaign that did get people laughing, then scratching their heads, then thinking about the motivation for sport.  Those motivations are different across age groups and gender and the basis of this campaign certainly did get the point across, through satire, that sport was for all.

The one area though that even this morning we still feel a sense of discomfort was in the imagery used within the teaser campaign and how that has in many ways reinforced a stereotype as opposed to breaking it down.

Glamour models in hotpants and high heels were used to make a point but a scan of the comments section on websites that carried the story show that the main impact was on encouraging young men identifying which of the models they fancied the most.

It wasn’t needed and the fact is that those images will live longer online than those we want to put forward as genuinely representative of women playing sport, being physically active and enjoying themselves for the same reasons as men.

Using stereotypes to break down stereotypes is a familiar tactic but we believe this could have been done without the models in this case.

We are not alone.  Discussions over the weekend with a number of people within and outside the confines of women’s sport expressed similar hope but slight uncertainty about the campaign launch.

As long term active supporters of women’s sport we genuinely wish Lidl and Ladies Football well in rolling this #SeriousSupport out over the coming months and years.  It is a smart move to tie marketing spend to an area that has shown great growth in recent years.

We know that the marketing and sponsorship team will look at the detail rather than just the overall picture.  Breege Corkery’s folded arms in the advert above show her intent but also serve to cover up the branding of Supervalu that sponsor the Cork Ladies team.

This was the video that revealed the true nature behind the partnership and it makes a lot of good points.