Jordan's Choice of Maya Moore Helps All Team Players

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Maya Moore became the first female basketball player to be signed onto Michael Jordan's Nike brand in May. The question remains if Nike will emphasize her athleticism or her looks, as often occurs with female athletes, in their marketing.

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Turning Off Sports Fans

In her focus groups--organized by sex and age groups--she displayed images of female athletes, some in traditional athletic poses and some more sexualized. The latter, she found, could be an actual turn-off to serious sports-events marketing.

"My study showed that it alienates the core fan base. Even though younger males might be interested in buying the magazine or the calendar featuring sexy images, it doesn't mean that they're going to go to a women's games," said Kane.

Jordan's brand has not sexualized any of the men in its marketing strategies--Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony have yet to appear as anything but basketball players in their featured commercials. Holmes, the lone female representative on Jordan's brand until Moore came along, also hasn't been portrayed sexually in advertisements.

"Maya Moore is considered one of the greatest women basketball players, if not the greatest, this country has ever produced, so her personal 'brand' is about her extraordinary athleticism," Kane said. "Unlike Maria Sharapova. Even though she was a professional tennis player her brand was about how beautiful, blond and sexy she was. That's not the case for Maya, her primary identity has been that she's an extraordinarily gifted athlete."

So there could be a sports-marketing breakthrough to be hailed here: A female athlete appreciated for her athleticism.

But Kane isn't hailing a milestone yet.

"Now the question is, when they choose to market her, will they continue to emphasize her athleticism or will they try to sexualize her and make her a girly girl?" she asked.


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Krystie Lee Yandoli is an editorial intern at Women's eNews.

For more information:

Maya Moore's WNBA Player Profile:

Nike's Jordan brand:

Women's Sports Foundation:

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