Fatmire Bajmaraj is the new face of the German women’s team
The new generation of women players are sleek and attractive and the German squad have Fatmire Bajmaraj (above), Kim Kulig, Celia Okoyino da Mbabi, and Simone Laudehr to prove that looks and skill can co-exist in the same corporeal space. Is this happy coincidence or the fact that sponsors are consciously going after a certain look which could mean big business for them that is driving this phenomenon? A Der Spiegel article sets out to investigate a trend.
This much is true the current World Cup has been showered by unprecedented attention from all the big companies be it Deutsche Bank to Allianz spending millions on advertising and marketing. German electronics retailer Expert is billing this World Cup as the most beautiful World Cup of all time. An early ad shoot has the women’s team posing with a new model of Mercedes SUV.
One of the realities of the women’s version is that it virtually pays next to no money compared to their male counterparts. The exposure through various broadcasting and TV networks is equally dismal. Thus, the old adage of selling looks to get better financial remuneration and equal airtime is partly driving the facial uplift of this German team.
The interesting thing is this trend is being greenlighted by women themselves. In particular, the manager Doris Fitschen, has made statements in the past that celebrate the female form and face. “Even if one of her players wanted to strip down for Playboy,” she said, “it wouldn’t be an issue.” Voila, the German issue came out with an issue devoted to U20 female footballers which one can see part of in this clip.
The pendulum has swung the other way. Feminists like Gloria Steinem would abhor this development which has the conservative bent of commodification. A survey of the advertising industry shows appearance based characteristics (public persona and sex appeal) are the most influential driving factors in marketing female football players. These set of rules do not apply to male footballers. Ronaldinho, Leo Messi, and Wayne Rooney do not suffer in comparison to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham picking up equally lucrative endorsements and sponsorships.
Will a book be judged by its cover in the future? If there is so much premium placed on the physical appearance of a female footballer, a time will come when skill will be sacrificed. Surely professional achievements should count as the only real sustainable hallmark. One has to look only to women’s tennis to see this is true. Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic who were omniscient tour de forces in the marketing world when they were at the top of their games have all but disappeared. There is an occasional flash like Caroline Wozniaki but women’s tennis is literally dominated by one stroke wonders. The German team is the favourite to win because it plays well and has done so in the past. Glamour and sex appeal can pique interest in this World Cup but beyond this novelty hard work needs to be done between a spectacle put on every four years.