World Cup 2010 Billboards À“ OR Tambo Airport

Date: April 6, 2010
  • SHARE:

The two billboards picture two South Africans – a man and a woman – supposedly daydreaming about what they would like to be doing during the FIFA World Cup. Below is the statement, ‘We get you,’ followed by the logo for Hollard insurance.

This article may be used in training to:
– Discuss the sexualisation of women in advertising
– Analyse perceptions of men and women’s roles in sport as well as their interests during sporting events
– Examine gender in advertising leading up to the World Cup

Articles Analysed:
– Hollard billboard – construction worker/ soccer fan
– Hollard billboard – police officer/ pole dancer

Trainer’s notes:
The two billboards have been featured at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg in the months preceding the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The first is displayed at the entrance to the airport, near the junction between arrivals and departures. It features a male construction worker listening to the radio, smiling and looking slightly upwards. His shadow shows him as a soccer fan with a vuvuzela and signature hat. The second image is displayed on the road leaving the airport, just as vehicles merge back onto the highway. It features a voluptuous female police officer leaning on a parking meter, smiling and looking into the middle distance. Her shadow appears to be a thin, high-heeled pole dancer.

These images are problematic for several reasons. They perpetuate stereotypes about men and women and sport, sexualise women, and subtly reinforce women’s traditional roles. There is a common perception that women are not interested in sport; much of the advertising leading up to the World Cup has played into this perception, featuring mainly male soccer fans. These billboards are no exception. However what is particularly puzzling about them is that while the man is looking forward to the soccer games, the woman appears to be looking forward to becoming a sex worker. What is even more perplexing is that this woman is a police officer. Why a police officer would be dreaming of becoming a sex worker for the World Cup is anyone’s guess. Why isn’t she pictured as a soccer fan? Or, to play into stereotypes, a cheerleader at the very least? Not only is the advert insulting to women, it simply doesn’t make sense.

This is just another example – albeit a somewhat bizarre one – of how media sexualises women. There is absolutely no need to turn an insurance ad into a striptease, as Hollard has effectively done. Insurance and soccer have nothing to do with sex or sexy women; there was no reason to choose this kind of image. It tells people nothing about insurance, or what kind of services Hollard offers. Looking at the image of the man, one can suppose that the billboards are trying to say that Hollard understands the needs and wants of its clients. However, reading the two images together, the message becomes confusing, and one questions how they could possibly understand women’s wants and needs at all.

The billboards also reinforce perceptions around women’s traditional roles. While the woman featured is a police officer – a traditionally male-dominated occupation – her shadow shows her as a sexual object. It is almost as if the ad is saying that although this woman is in a position of authority, what she really wants, what she dreams about in fact, is to be someone’s little sex kitten. It reinforces the stereotypical idea that women belong in the private sphere, either in the kitchen or in the bedroom.

The placement of these ads is unfortunate. Soccer fans and tourists coming to South Africa will undoubtedly pass through OR Tambo Airport. The image they will see first is the billboard featuring the woman. In fact, it is almost the very first billboard they will see in South Africa, as it is placed right at airport exit ramp. Is that the kind of first impression one wants visitors to see?

Discussion questions:
– Why do you think advertisers feel the need to use sex as a selling feature? What other images could have been used that would have been just as effective?
– Why do you think most advertising around sports, in particular sports like soccer, rugby, and cricket, feature men? Do you think that women would be more interested in sport if they could better identify with it (i.e. if there was more support for/ coverage of women’s sport; if there were more women fans featured in ads, etc)?
– Why do you think the advertisers linked the woman’s World Cup dreams to sex?

Training exercises:
– Compare and contrast adverts featuring the World Cup, or another major sporting event. What do you notice about them? What do they say about women? What do they say about men? Do they present a fair representation of sportsfans? Why or why not?
– Work in groups to redesign these billboards to present a more gender balanced picture. Be creative, encourage groups to subvert gender norms.

Links to other training resources

Picture our Lives, Gender and Images in Southern Africa, Chapter three: Sex, Gender and Stereotypes

Gender and Advertising in Southern Africa



Download : 11025_hollard_2010billboard_female.jpg
Download : 11026_hollard_2010billboard_male.jpg

Comment on World Cup 2010 Billboards À“ OR Tambo Airport

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *