Culture Jam Assignment: Women in Professional Sport

Original Advertisement: MacLaren McCann, 2012

Written Analysis

This Mastercard advertisement was created by agency MacLaren McCann in 2012 for the 12th Annual Women’s Golf Classic in Markham, Ontario. The printed ad depicts a high heeled shoe as the golf ball and tee on a hilled green with the tagline “The 12th Annual Women’s Golf Classic: Priceless”. The high heeled shoe is the centre focus of the ad and is additionally used as a design tool, one that draws the eye down to the central tagline of the advertisement through the narrow and pointy heel. There are several problematic messages this ad conveys, the first being the use of the world “priceless”. Although seemingly used to represent the golf tournament itself, the word actually refers to the shoe, which one can buy with the help of a line of credit through Mastercard. The word encourages one to needlessly spend on consumer (or perhaps designer) goods, inspiring women especially to spend money on justifiably “priceless” items. This underlying message has nothing to do with what the ad is meant to promote, instead advancing the agenda of the company sponsoring the tournament. Additionally, the use of the high heel to represent a women’s tournament is particularly problematic, given that the women competing are professional athletes who would never wear high heeled shoes while competing. In this regard, the use of the high heel represents women as a whole. While the high heel can represent female empowerment in some contexts, historically, the use of the high heel in pop culture has been used as a way to objectify and sexualize the female body, while also representing a myriad of gendered stereotypes. By focusing the advertisement around such a symbol, Mastercard has again failed to promote what the add was created for: Female athletes and professional sport.

Not only are women in professional sport sexualized in sport media or even on the field through sports commentary and required uniforms, female athletes are often not taken seriously in the male dominated world of sport. By reducing these professional golfers to nothing more than a high heeled shoe, this advertisement has depreciated the seriousness, hard work and strength of female athletes while also belittling their desire to compete.

Jammed Advertisement

Jam Philosophy 

The jammed ad removed the original tagline altogether of “priceless” by adding a new text that reads “The 12th Annual Women’s Golf Classic: A hole lot more than just high heels.” The new tagline acknowledges the stereotypical association of women with high heeled shoes, but instead disregards this association, asserting that the athletes themselves are much more than just their gendered stereotypes. Indeed, the golf tournament and the athletes competing represent more than designer goods, domestic behaviours and gendered personality traits. Instead, they represent strength, competitiveness, hard work and grit, all traits that would be associated with their male counterparts. As well, by removing the original “priceless” tagline, the jammed advertisement is also able set aside the underlying message of consumerism associated with credit cards, focussing the ad on the athletes and the tournament. Overall, the jammed ad reveals the gendered associations and assumptions that women have to challenge and navigate on a day to day basis, especially in the world of professional sport.

The use of the pun “A hole lot more…” subtly brings the advertisement back to the sport while still allowing the overall message of the jammed advertisement to be the main focus. In this pun, the word “hole” is able to represent the sport of golf but also the (whole) multitude of attributes and roles women can take on when we can see past sexist norms. The jammed ad is meant to inspire female empowerment in a male dominated industry, especially one that often sees the “woman” before the “athlete”.