I’m always interested in how women are portrayed in cycling media, and I talk about the bad, of course, but also the good – and I was already collecting examples of great advertising, when this popped up in my twitter-stream:
This is such an amazing move! For years, the ‘Assos Girls’ – topless models wearing bibshorts and caressing their boobs, jerseys allegedly advertised to women with a woman on her knees in stilettos and spray-on PVC leggings (check out the 2nd photo here, and read the post, it’s hilarious!) have been an embarrassment to cycling for years. My post about the Assos Girl, and cycling companies who market well to women has had one of the biggest number of hits since I posted it in 2013 (despite all the pictures having disappeared because they’re all gone from the sites now). So of course I immediately clicked through to the Ella Cycling Tips article to see what’s going on – and I loved the quotes from the new Assos CEO Phil Duff, including:
“Yes, I am quite painfully aware of how Assos has portrayed women in the past,” said Duff, who had been an Assos customer himself since its founding days. “Not only do I know that from the market place, but in my first few weeks of getting involved with the Assos, I’d come home every night and my wife would say, ‘when the hell are you getting the naked women off their website?’”
“There are some things that are changing, particularly with respect to the customer-facing side of this company, one of which is that everyone here is now fully on board that we are now going to portray women the same way we portray men –as athletes,”
So hooray, Assos is now off my personal blacklist! Their site is completely down, in development, but you can sign up to get notified when they’re back.
And one other good thing to celebrate? It’s clear from Duff’s comments, and the comments from USA Cycling about their relationship with the company, that public opinion played a big part in this too – so when we see terrible advertising (‘I hate Jeffsy‘, #Sockgate, Six Six One’s kneepad imagery, the Maxxis calendar, to name some recent examples), talking, writing and tweeting about it may not have an immediate effect, but it does help effect change – isn’t that great to know?
So, onwards to more good that I’ve seen so far this year. I’ve talked about these in podcasts and elsewhere on the site, but they’re so good, they deserve to be celebrated. As always, if you’ve got 2016 examples of cycling marketing featuring women, please do share with me, in the comments, on twitter or on tumblr, and I’ll put up a second post. And as usual, I get no benefits, incentives or rewards for talking about these – it’s just things I personally like.
The most recent advert I loved was from Liv Cycling, part of their #ActuallyICan campaign. In my defense, I was feeling ill when I saw it, but it really did give me a lump in my throat – the moment when the cyclist stopped, looking exhausted, and then carried on. It sounds so cheesy, but done so well. I love the different kinds of women, and the way it shows what’s awesome about achieving in sport.