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How Rethink Challenged Sports Fans to Consider Gender Disparity


Rethink associate creative directors Jacquelyn Parent and Skye Deluz on redesigning logos, challenging the status quo and who the real leading FIFA international goal scorer is, writes LBB’s Josh Neufeldt

How Rethink Challenged Sports Fans to Consider Gender Disparity

Fans of North American sports might be accustomed to official league names like NHL, NBA and WNBA. But of the three listed here, one is not like the others. This raises the question, “why do women’s sports always get labelled with a W, while men’s sports get to just be called ‘sports’?” 

YWCA Canada and Rethink didn’t find this fair and teamed up. The result was the launch of the ‘Add The M’ campaign - a proposal for the letter M to be made a preface for men’s sports. Thus far, the campaign has included redesigns for the MLS, PGA, NBA and NHL logos and has gained the support of notable North American sports figures such as Christine Sinclair, Donnovan Bennett and Jennifer Hedger.  

Rethink associate creative directors Jacquelyn Parent and Skye Deluz spoke to LBB’s Josh Neufeldt about the campaign’s push against gender disparity in sports. 

LBB> What was the brief like? And what were your thoughts when you saw it?

Jacquelyn> This idea was part of Rethink’s ‘Change Proposal’ process, where we can come up with ideas independently of a brief and then Rethink puts a team and resources behind it to make it happen. It did come to us while we were working on a different project, so credit to that brief for getting us into the mindset of how women are being treated today. 

LBB> Broaching the idea of gender equality in sports is probably difficult, given how vast the North American sports world is. Was there a natural starting point for your work, and if so, how did you find it?

Jacquelyn> The natural starting point was really just our own experiences as women’s sports fans. We’re big fans of the Canadian Women’s soccer team in particular and their Olympic Gold last year was an inspiring starting point. From there it was important to find the sports leagues that felt really relevant to our audience, but also had corresponding women’s leagues, so when we added the M, it would match the existing W. 

LBB> The North American sports league logos with the added M look really good. What was the design process like for them?

Skye> For greatest impact, we wanted to maintain as much of the integrity of the original logo designs as possible, from the placement of the league names to the fonts and type treatments of the original designs. At the end of the day we knew they needed to register as the globally recognisable logos everyone is used to, so the simple twist — adding the M — would stand out. 

LBB> What was the research process for this project like? Did you learn any interesting facts along the way?

Jacquelyn> A lot of it was knowledge that had just been piling up over time as people who follow women’s sports and the fight for equal rights in that space. Once we dug into it, a few interesting and sometimes infuriating facts came up, like the fact that when you google practically anything sports related without specifying “women,” the default result is men. A particularly egregious example is if you google “top international FIFA goal scorer” Cristiano Ronaldo comes up, even though he has 115 goals, compared to the actual top scorer, Christine Sinclair, who has 188. 

LBB> What has the process of working with the YWCA been like?

Jacquelyn> They have been fantastic. They are passionate, hardworking advocates for women’s issues across the board. In particular, our client Amy is a passionate women’s sports fan as well. So it was really like minds. 

LBB> What has the response been like to the campaign?

Jacquelyn> Overall it’s been really positive. We really wanted to do something that would kick start a conversation and that’s what we’ve been seeing. Almost like people were waiting for someone to point this out. 

LBB> Have you or the client had to deal with any pushback? And if so, how have you dealt with it?

Jacquelyn> Like anything that challenges the status quo, there have been some instances of negative pushback on social media, but the point was to start a conversation so we’ve taken it in stride. 

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Rethink, Fri, 08 Apr 2022 13:51:13 GMT