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Does Golf Have a Porn Addiction?



A recent scroll through my Instagram feed—which is primarily focused on golf-related brands—was quite revealing. And, I mean that in the most literal sense.


Sexy images of women golfers pose seductively to sell the latest club or, quite frankly, themselves, and the sport in general. Brands are storming social media with sexy marketing propositions but are they alienating the core demographic they have been in hot pursuit of?

It was Australian golfer Jan Stephenson who first popularized the idea that LPGA stars should openly embrace a "sex-sells" approach to marketing their game. But does sex really sell?

Sex sells…sex. Not golf.

It’s no surprise that some demographics respond differently to sexy or violent ads. In particular, studies have shown that while sexy images do indeed catch our eyes, they can be costly—in the form of ad recall. When ads contain sexy imagery, consumers are less able to remember the product, the brand, or features showcased in the ad.

“Women tend to remember products from provocative ads; men tend to be distracted by sex or violence and not remember the product. Older participants were turned off by violence and sex; younger consumers were more likely to respond to it.” (Time)

Are brands trading their credibility for publicity?

There’s no doubt that a double standard exists. For male golfers, it’s about their performance, and for female golfers, it appears to be as much about their looks as it is about their performance. Contention certainly exists between players themselves on whether or not bringing sexy back will jumpstart golf’s declining popularity.

In ESPN’s Nine for IX, “Branded” (highly recommend you check it out, great overview of this topic), an athlete is asked, “How does a female athlete navigate her career?” Her response, “There’s two categories. You’re either wholesome, all-American squeaky clean, or you’re a sexy vixen. Why do women have to be like that and men don’t?”

The media certainly appears to support this theory. Think GolfPunk’s “Swingin’ Sirens”, Golf.com’s “Sexiest Women Golfers” or SwingXSwing's "From The Gallery." Sure, Tiger took off his shirt for Vanity Fair, but you don’t see him or any other male golfer posing in their swimsuit or a skimpy outfit on a frequent basis.

In a recent article on ABCNEWS, Christine Brennan, a sports columnist for USA Today and a consultant for ABCNEWS, says women's sports (and brands) need to progress in their marketing approach.

“"We seem to be still pandering to the frat house when … many viewers of women's sports are 12-year-old girls with their 40-year-old dads," she says. But sports agent Drew Rosenhaus says the women's leagues are just giving the fans what they want.

“"There is a large part of the sports viewership that wants to see good looking, female golfers…," he says, "and there's nothing wrong with that."” (ABCnews)

What’s your opinion? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic!

#golfadvertising #golfmarketingtips

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