Under Armour teased their newest advertising spot on Tuesday, giving the public a glimpse at the face/body for their women’s line: Gisele Bündchen. As in, the world’s top-paid model, or as most Bostonians know her, that Brazilian model who is married to Tom Brady, who also has his own Under Armour contract.
The campaign is part of Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” series, which will feature ballet dancer Misty Copeland, skier Lindsay Vonn, and tennis pro Sloane Stephens in similar vignettes to promote their women’s collection. In Bündchen’s full spot, which dropped today, she’s shown beating a punching bag while anonymous Tweets appear on the walls of the gym. Some are good, some are bad, and some are kind of valid, including one that reads, “Is modeling now a sport?”
But are models athletes? Was that even a question asked by anyone, anywhere? Are domestic kittens not also jaguar cubs? Last time I checked, no. But to be fair, I never thought to ask before.
There’s no debate that the women who are deemed at the top of the modeling game are most certainly physically fit. However, when they frequently make crossover appearances as the faces of fitness brands — because yes, they are models — co-billing them alongside a panel of some of the world’s top professional athletes seems odd.
Karlie Kloss was recently signed by Nike and is an unabashed, unofficial ambassador of New York’s elite ModelFit, a swanky gym just for models (and Taylor Swift) that makes frequent appearances on her social media. But is Kloss the same as the other faces that appear in Nike’s many ads? I understand there is a disparity between an endorsement and an ad campaign — but when it comes to the mindset of the average consumer, is it really that different?
Again, don’t get me wrong, models are often extremely fit. When your body is on constant display, held to physical standards set by the modeling world, and you want to remain a sane, healthy human being, you must work out. Being thin and having a pretty face is not always enough. Movement, control, and tone are what will continue to get you cast for runway shows and photo shoots. Unfortunately, this concept and its value doesn’t translate to us mere mortals/most non-model Under Armour shoppers.
In Copeland’s spot, an off-screen voice reads a rejection letter that specifically tells the American Ballet Theatre dancer that she will never make it as a professional, saying her body and form are wrong. The idea of rejection inspiring focus, drive, and ambition is valid — the idea of angry Tweets fueling Gisele is not. Copeland’s ability to perform at her peak athletic ability is a direct correlation to her monetary and professional gain. Same can be said for Vonn and Stephens. This seems less true for Bündchen.
The description for the spot on YouTube reads, “Gisele knows what it means to live under the microscope, amongst the noise of contradicting opinions. But will beats noise.” Note: They say contradicting opinions, and yes, many of the comments sculled along the gym walls are very positive. I believe one says “GODDESS” very distinctly across the screen.
But are opposing comments of positive and negative reviews of Bündchen’s physical form really enough to inspire her beat the crap out of a punching bag at the gym? And are anyone’s critiques of our own physical appearance enough to force us to push ourselves toward looking better? Should they be? And should a performance brand be perpetuating that body-shaming correlation? That’s an entirely different conversation.
Ad Week’s interview with Droga5, the agency behind the campaign, stresses that the spot has a positive message. “We wanted to show a new side of Gisele—the unguarded, raw, real and brave side that shows what it’s like living in the public eye,” creative director John McKelvey told them. “To the world, most people have only seen her in a context of beauty and polish.”
But the idea that Bündchen is sitting at home in Back Bay stressing over mean comments on Twitter is hilarious to me. If anything, Brady surely warned her against it. Why Under Armour chose web haterade to be Bündchen’s visual representation of what physically drives her to be strong is kind of absurd.
Don’t get me wrong — I don’t mind to diminish Bündchen, at all. She’s a wildly successful and influential model. But what likely drives Bündchen to work out? Maybe a $47 million pay day. But I’m just guessing.