How Not to Market Cheerleading Tryouts
Telling women to wear “girl-about-town lipstick” and “curled or straight” hair down and off of the face in order to try out for a sports team proved to be the wrong social media marketing tactic for University of Washington Cheerleading.
Posting a “Cheer and Dance Tryout Look” infographic of dos and don’ts to its Facebook page on Monday night, the University of Washington Cheerleading program set off a social media backlash that spawned numerous headlines, including “Look Like This, Not that: UW pulls cheerleader-tryout advice after angry backlash.”
Katherine Long’s Tuesday article in the Seattle Times, updated on Thursday, shows the thoughts that had been posted to the cheer and dance program’s Facebook page, but that were nowhere in evidence when Target Marketing checked the page on Friday.
Long also writes: “Seattle resident Clay Thompson posted [the infographic] on his Facebook page ‘to ensure that the University of Washington addresses the overt racism (I know there’s more, but let’s start there) in the ad.’ He called it ‘offensive, exclusionary and ignorant. Those are not values of Seattle or the Puget Sound community.’ ”
@seattletimes please be a Barbie doll, white christian woman or don't bother! Great message! 😀
— Craig Baker (@ucbooker) April 27, 2016
On Wednesday on its own Facebook page, student government organization Associated Students of the University of Washington posted about its objection to the infographic and how it portrayed the learning institution.
“This image does not reflect the values of the University of Washington,” reads the post. “In the midst of protests and conversations with the administration in order to provide a more inclusive environment for all of our students, this goes against everything that many students have been working so hard for. An advertisement such as this completely objectifies women and creates barriers that only [perpetuate] the inaccessibility of opportunities that should be open for every student on this campus. We will be doing everything in our power to make it very clear to our students (both incoming and current) that this is not in any way representative of our university and our campus climate. We hope the administration will do the same.”
But so far, those efforts seem eclipsed by the social media backlash and confusion from others about why there is backlash.
Instead of putting out marketing like the infographic that portrays the university in a bad light, UW should be telling prospective students and their parents about how likely they are to find suitable employment as a result of attending the learning institution, says Aubrey Bach, writing for PayScale on Thursday.
“If colleges want to appeal to the real concerns of parents and students, their marketing needs to focus more on outcomes-based data and less on making sure that cheerleaders don't show up to tryouts with a ponytail,” she says in “Abs vs. Outcomes: UW's Cheerleading Infographic Shows That Colleges Aren't Marketing Themselves Correctly.”
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
Related story: 'The D’ Stands for ... 'Dumb'