The Canadian Press reported today that Martha Burk, chairperson of the National Council of Women's Organizations, is starting a protest campaign over TV ads the National Hockey League is set to air shortly. Burk says she will write letters of protest to both the NHL and television network NBC regarding the ads, which, she says, are disrespectful to women.
The first in a series of five commercials, slated to start next week, opens with a quote from Chinese military philosopher Sun Tzou. Following this, an actor portraying an NHL player is shown in a locker room, surrounded by candles, being tended to by a seductivley dressed woman as theatrical music swells. The woman helps him don his hockey garb as if he is going into battle, and as the player heads toward the ice, the camera cuts to a young boy in the stands cheering his hero on.
The ads are designed by Conductor, an entertainment marketing company that has worked on music videos for bands such as Green Day and ad campaigns for the Spider-Man films. The ads are aimed at announcing the return of the financially hard-hit hockey league after a much-publicized 301-day lockout.
According to Burk, "The commercial is clearly selling sex and violence and the last image in that commercial is a young boy watching this, so he's clearly the customer they're after, or it's a misguided attempt to draw in families."
NHL spokeswoman Bernadette Mansur disagreed with Burk.
"This ad shows no disrespect for women," Mansur told The Canadian Press. "On the contrary, the woman is the spiritual and physical trainer for the 'Warrior' and is his mentor."
The National Council of Women's Organization is a nonpartisan, nonprofit umbrella organization of groups that collectively represents millions of women across the United States. In 2003, it began an ongoing lobby to have the prestigious all-male Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters tournament, open to women.