Women in the News: Which Has More Economic Upside– a Gold Medal, or Gold-Medal-Worthy Flirting Skills?|
Olympic Update: All that Glitters is not (Advertising) Gold
The Olympics are well underway and every day we can watch athletes deliver the performance of their lives. Muscles, suspense, tears and anthems – what more could we ask for?
Well, for starters, we could see more of the athletes once the Olympics are over (especially female athletes).
A new study that will be published in the Journal of Brand Management examined the under-representation of women athletes in advertising and how they miss out on big endorsement deals. When you look at advertisements it seems that women athletes only exist during the Olympic Games– and then go hide and train for another four years. Even though that might be beneficial for their athletic careers, women miss out on a lot of money that comes with these endorsement deals: According to the study, the 2011 Sport Illustrated list of the 50 highest-earning athletes contains exactly zero women.
When companies endorse someone, they are looking for three qualities: familiarity, likeability and similarity. The target audience has to recognize and like whom they are seeing so they can form a connection that makes them want to buy the product. The problem with female athletes is that they lack all three of these attributes.
Female athletics doesn’t have a lot of exposure: Men draw a larger audience so they get most of the airtime and attention. No matter how well women perform during the Olympics and how likable they are during their interviews, most of us simply haven’t seen their faces long enough to recognize them in real life and with real clothes.
The bigger problem however has to do with the way advertisers portray female athletes: The focus of these ads is often on the women’s attractiveness and not their personal or professional achievements. The product they sell is targeted towards a female market but the actual picture usually speaks to men. The endorsement has no effect on the target audience, which results in a significant loss of women’s purchasing power. Sex doesn’t sell everything or to everybody.
Endorsing a female athlete seems to pose a big risk for companies, but there is an easy way out: portray them in a more likable way, let them wear more clothes and don’t focus so much on toned muscles.
The US team for the 2012 Olympics includes more women than men and they have already achieved some tremendous victories. Advertisers, what more could you ask for?
The Mathematics of the One-Third Flirt
We probably all know that flirting is a powerful tool, but now we have scientific proof. When done right, women can increase their chances of winning a negotiation by almost a third just by including the flirt in their arsenal of communication tactics. Similarly useful: Correct flirting can give you a 20% discount when trying to buy a car. Flirting (and feminine charm) have economic benefits.
Now, is there incorrect flirting? Yes. Researchers said there is a very fine line between just being friendly and actually flirting. If you are too friendly, you’ll lose and in the car example, might even end up paying more.
The recipe for a successful flirt calls for the following ingredients: “Combine friendliness and affiliation with flirtation, including playfulness, flattery, and sexiness.” The secret ingredient that distinguishes flirting from being friendly is selfishness. You want to satisfy our own interest and that’s what makes that whole game so much more powerful and lets your negotiation party know that you mean business.
Combining feminine charm with masculine selfishness and competitiveness are the perfect combo when negotiating. In case that sounds to complicated, researchers suggest you study Mad Men’s Joan Holloway. Now, that homework doesn’t sound too bad, does it?