A dainty pink Gaelic football supposedly designed to get women into the sport sparked a sexism row on social media this week - but the drive intentionally controversial to raise awareness of Ladies Gaelic Football, which is now sponsored by Lidl Ireland.
The 'Ladyball', promoted itself as "specially designed for a lady's game" with its "soft touch, eazi [sic] play and fashion driven” performance. It angered many social media users who called it out for sexist marketing.
Giving the drive some weight (or fuelling the flames) was the endorsement of former Irish international Gaelic footballer Ger Brennan (pictured below).
He said: “I got involved with Ladyball because I’ve seen how much more active women have become in recent years - I think the participation of women in sports is increasing, which is great.
"But this growth has been mostly in solitary activities like swimming and running and it hasn’t translated to team sports.”
Brennan concluded: “I think team sports can be intimidating for women, they tend to be very physical and require particular skills, which can be off putting, but I think the Ladyball can combat that- it’s designed to enhance a woman’s abilities and make it easier for women to play, so I hope it will open doors for more women to get involved."
A Ladyball Twitter account sparked online engagements with controversial tweets such as ‘Don't break a nail, break boundaries with #Ladyball’. It
— Lady Ball (@theladyball_com) January 13, 2016
However, there was more to the Ladyball than meets the eye.
The company was also sending publications based in Ireland such as Evoke and Her cupcakes with its press release and had ads in several Irish publications.
There's now ads in the paper for the lady ball.. This can't be real please say it ain't so pic.twitter.com/1htC8BmGi2 — Rachel (@ityagalrach) January 15, 2016
As the Ladyball is arguably one of the most ill-conceived ideas in football since indignant Fifa president Sepp Blatter claimed hotpants would make the women's sport more marketable, several clues hint that the product is a hoax and a viral marketing stunt focused on guiding more more women into the sport.
The LadyBall website states that the football is "not yet in development" despite it generating buzz with a substantial media buy.
Lidl Ireland on Friday afternoon revealed it was behind the marketing stunt.
The retailer has partnered with Ladies Gaelic Football and the absurd push was an attempt to raise awareness of the sport and the deal.
Watch the video explaining the partnership below.
For those of you that have wondered what 'Ladyball' was all about let us put your minds at ease! It is part of a...
— Ladies Football (@LadiesFootball) January 15, 2016