The women of pro surfing get something of a raw deal. When it comes to performance, they’re graded asexually: “Whatever, she can’t punt like Dane and Jordy.” But when it comes to salaries, they get Monopoly money; in the lineup they’re ignored; men judge their looks instead of their cutbacks; and the girls still have that one major stereotype to contend with. It could be argued that, as a sport, women’s surfing is a downright hard sell.
So consider the ASP’s newly released Women’s World Tour Media Kit, entitled “Welcome to the Life.” The pamphlet boasts mini-profiles of the ASP Top 17, along with action and lifestyle shots depicting their carefree, empowered, overtly sexy world travels. “Whoa” is the standard reaction to Ted Grambeau’s eye-popping photographs. It’s not quite the SURFING Swimsuit Issue, but it’ll make a few young bachelors wish they’d come out for the Roxy Pro. We asked ASP Media Manager Dave Prodan to elaborate on the Kit and its purpose:
“The ASP endeavored to really give the Top 17 a shot in the arm, especially during this little downtime between events. Marketing of women’s surfing is always a challenge, but this season we have such a great group of girls both talent-wise and beauty-wise. [The ASP] took its cues from other sports like tennis and golf and (in Australia) cricket, where they really market the sort of sensual side, and try to bring out the femininity of their athletes that doesn’t always come across in events.”
Cue the broken record on objectifying women and a double-standard between the sexes – after all, the men aren’t made out to be sex symbols or anything.
“We still promote the girls on the basis of their achievements,” says the ASP’s Prodan. “The winners of the events and the girls who succeed on tour are the one who get the most publicity, at least in our literature. The Media Kit really tried to give the girls equal play, but as I said, the marketing of women’s surfing has traditionally been difficult, and if you look at the larger companies in the industry right now, some of them don’t sponsor events, some companies don’t sponsor any athletes – they support their lines through women’s modeling and stuff like that – so I think it was more just an experiment to say, ‘Look, our girls are beautiful too, and we’d like to market them as such.’ You know, in addition to the talents that everyone knows they possess.”
All whinging about political correctness aside, the women this year do look great – and their surfing is by far the best in history – so it’s sad to see events disappearing from the Tour schedule (Sunset Beach is gone for now, and another stop is just a “maybe” for 2009) and surfers struggling to get the support they need to compete. If a saucy media kit helps the women find their audience – and if we can get another quick look at those photos – then we’re all for it.
To see the ASP Womens new media kit, visit http://www.ASPWorldTour.com/2009/mediakit_book