Local WNBA stars DONE with “female” athletes title, on mission to end empowerment ads


HOUSTON — Two Cypress-Fairbanks High School graduates who went on to make big leaps in the WNBA are joining with other women in sports on a mission to have others drop the “female” reference when it comes to what they do, and refer to them just as they would their masculine counterparts.  Simply put, as athletes.

Nneka Ogwumike, a WNBA All-Star and recently-named Most Valuable Player
with the Los Angeles Sparks, and her sister, Chiney Ogwumike of the Connecticut Sun,
are co-starring in a new NCAA commercial that hits back at “empowerment” advertising. They
say it’s time to say it out loud: women DO NOT need “empowerment ads.”

“Genders don’t play sports, athletes do,” the sisters said.

The new campaign “Done,” from the NCAA and SS+K advertising, calls for an end
to “empowerment” ads and points-out that female athletes have been kicking ass all along
and want to be known as athletes, not “female” athletes.

In addition to the Ogwumike sisters, Done features star athletes Misty May-Treanor (a
three-time Olympic gold medalist in Volleyball with a Master’s Degree in Coaching and
Athletic Administration) and Olympic Medalist swimmer Natalie Coughlin-Hall.

“I felt compelled and honored to be a part of such a powerful PSA. Participating as
an athlete in the NCAA accounts for so much of our early career accomplishments; of
which breaking stigmas associated with being a female athlete, we consider a major
milestone and, hopefully, the being of a revolution,” said Nneka Ogwumike.

This is about stopping empowerment ads, so how do you feel this will resonate within the
advertising world?

“From men and women to youngsters and adults, it’s amazing how many fans and followers of sports feel so connected to an ad that targets empowerment. So many individuals already see past stereotypes this PSA brings to light, and we know it will continue to open the minds and brighten the perspectives of many others,” said
Chiney Ogwumike.

How do you approach your position as a role model to young women?

“I approach our positions as role models with soaring standards. My platform allows me
to incontestably illustrate toughness. As athletes, we’re capable of combining
collaborative strength with outstanding physical achievement: a combination many
would describe as inextinguishable,” said Nneka Ogwumike.

The ad campaign was written in response to the recent trend of “empowerment” ads that
build up girls and women by first making them seem weak and set upon.

“The flip side of an ad that says ‘women do anything’ is that you’re saying you believed they couldn’t,”
says Alyssa Georg, senior art director at SS+K. “We’re pointing out that women have
already reached the top of sports.”

The ad is the latest in a series of PSA’s SS+K has created for the NCAA since July 2015,
which have included athletes such as Billie Jean King and Shaquille O’Neal, to correct
misconceptions about sports.

The most recent ad, “2%,” features NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and points out that 98% of NCAA athletes never go pro, never sign shoe contracts. But they get something more important: a college education.