Byline: carolyn hitt
AS SOMEONE whose brief includes taking a leftfield look at sport, I thought I'd seen everything in the realms of leftfield sporting press releases.
But that was before the email announcing the launch of the "I Love England Remote Control Love Egg" arrived this week.
After miraculously escaping the office spam filter which snares all the Russian brides and Viagra emails, the press release kicked off with the results of an online poll claiming England football players have already "faced the stiffest test of their careers in the form of a Snog, Marry, Avoid survey". The results included the startling news that "an overwhelming 73% of women said Ashley Cole would be the player they would most like to avoid".
So far, so roll-eye. Then came the description of a product designed so soccer supporters can "truly enjoy the World Cup with their loved ones".
Presented in an "Englandthemed heart shape box" the Love Egg was being touted as the "perfect gift for die-hard fans and World Cup Widows alike".
And if the former couldn't tear themselves away from Wayne Rooney et al, no matter.
"The Love Egg has a remote control that works from up to 10 metres away so fans don't even need to leave the sofa to please their partners," chirped the press release, conjuring up arguably the least romantic image in the history of male-female interaction.
Can of Stella in one hand, World Cup Love Egg Remote Control in the other and England v Algeria on the telly.
If Andy Capp had ever written his own version of the Karma Sutra this was it.
Beyond the pitiful blokeishness of this marketing campaign is the bigger issue of stereotyping fan gender.
The promotion of the World Cup Love Egg is yet another example - albeit a rather saucy one - of how global sporting events are perceived as dividing the audience into male fans and their football widows.
The imminence of a World Cup always ramps up bizarre PR.
For a start, no British supermarket chain contemplates the fact that Welsh customers might not be that enamoured of a cut-price England shirt or St George Cross Pizza.
The tournament is also used as a peg to promote products that are more distant from football than Cheryl from Ashley.
And the concept of the Sport Widow is central to this kind of marketing.
LOVEFilm has announced free "anti-football" chick flicks from June 11 while several publicans are declaring their hostelries soccer conversation-free zones in a "bid to attract World Cup Widows". …