Several companies and organizations that attended #SeeHer In Sports in December spoke about how to change this in time for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo — and why everyone should be concerned with the accurate portrayal of women and girls in advertisements.
Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising and partnerships at NBCUniveral, stated that the U.S. Women’s Team is projected to “bring home so many medals, they will be in the top 10 medal recipients across the world.” NBC, she added, wants to “to capture the power of what young women will accomplish during the Olympics. We want to capture that potential and talent.” And she’s right, capturing women and girls’ accomplishments is inspiring — and shows that gender doesn’t help or hinder performance; people are people.
Meanwhile, Fiona Carter, co-chair of SeeHer and chief brand officer at AT&T, stresses that companies have to take action, saying, “Whether it’s micro or macro, take action. We need to level the playing field for women in sports.” Brands doing good, and promoting equality for all genders, is a source for growth.
Equality starts locally — and at the personal level. For 45 years, Colgate has sponsored the Colgate Women’s Games, the largest amateur track series open to all girls from elementary school through college and beyond. Competitors participate in preliminary meets and a semi-finals to determine finalists who will compete for trophies and educational grants; the next one is February 2020.
As Cheryl Toussaint, Meet Director at Colgate Women’s Games explained, “It’s important for a girl to be embraced as important, to be encouraged, whether they fall or finish. It’s important to know people care about them. A third-grader who participates in our games said the program gave her confidence. Another girl said it taught her ‘how to treat others’ and the ‘loving family atmosphere is a special thing.’ Seeing those words made me cry.”
This is why many companies are leveraging the 2020 Olympics as a global event that celebrates and inspires people to be their best and celebrate the achievements of others. What better time to celebrate women? Laura Molen, president of advertising sales and partnerships at NBCUniveral, stated that “40 percent of athletes are women but only seven percent of sports TV landscape is dedicated to women.”
Lina Lam, director of Olympic Sales at NBCUniversal, explained how the company is “uniquely positioned to move that forward. The Olympics is a cultural phenomenon that galvanizes unity.” According to NBC, 53 percent of the Olympic audience is female. For parents, there’s no better family entertainment than the Olympics, as 95 percent is a family-friendly event that celebrates the extraordinary.
According to NBCUniversal, despite many misconceptions, over half of U.S. medals were earned by female Olympians and Paralympians. In addition, eight of the top 10 most-followed women athletes are Olympians, illustrating how crucial it is to get the coverage right for women — which NBCUniversal has been taking seriously for a long time.
OnHerTurf was initially an Instagram account which launched during the Olympics in 2018 as a partnership between NBC Sports and Refinery29, seeks to celebrate female athletes to be the best version of themselves. However, it has now expanded to a podcast hosted by NBC Sports’ Kathryn Tappen, along with a digital video series “Football is Female.” Since its launch, OnHerTurf has seen seven consecutive quarters of growth. As Lam said best, “Seeing images on a consistent basis is transformative.”
In addition, SeeHerShine, a new series, will launch at the 2020 Olympics as a partnership between NBC and SeeHer, that aims to raise the visibility of women in sports. During a panel discussion at the SeeHer in Sports event this December, Kathryn Tappen added that sports “is authentic competition. It’s a common denominator that promotes happiness and friendship.”
As Stephanie McMahon put it at the end of the panel discussion, “We’re here to give women and girls the confidence to be successful.”
"The 2020 Olympics Are a Huge Moment for Women — Here's Why." ANA, 2019.