The FIFA Women’s World Cup starts on the 20th of July 2023 in Australia and New Zealand, and many brands will be looking for the opportunity to advertise due to its huge potential reach. However, over the years, especially around Women’s sports, the question has arisen as to whether brands are merely ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ or are they truly earnest in their support and looking to build an ongoing relationship? With England also being current champions of Europe there will be a huge demand and level of excitement for marketers in the upcoming Women’s FIFA World Cup. When done right, this is a huge opportunity for brands to connect with a global audience, however, brands need to steer away from a one-off, minimum effort partnership which are increasingly being called out by savvy consumers. So what media opportunities are available and how can brands approach this in the right way?
The UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 saw many brands criticized for tokenism; with brands joining the conversation hoping to benefit from the short-term association, rather than pushing for much needed progress in women’s sport. Research from Women in Sport found that women’s sport media coverage lags significantly behind that for men’s sport - despite some variation in the extent of coverage, women’s sport is significantly less visible than men’s, in some instances by up to 20 times. Nike and Heineken are two brands that supported the cause with integrity, building a close and long-standing relationship with those invested in the sport. Nike’s campaign ‘Never Settle, Never Done’ showcased the confidence, speed, and technical ability of women at the top of their game and challenged stereotypes around the perceived lack of physicality in women’s sport. Heineken took a similar approach with a campaign called ‘12th Woman’ challenging deep-rooted generational gender bias by poking fun at male-dominated cultural terms in football. Both brands have history promoting foundations for women and have actively played important roles in women’s sports with Nike being a key advocate and always being at the forefront for women’s sport. In contrast, brands that contribute bland ads with no history of supporting women in sport (or in general) make little connection to audiences. Common themes were grand proclamations deemed patronising, leaning into stereotypes, or insincere statements that were unreflective of their brand. The Talented Ladies Club #PayFair campaign put many brands under the spotlight over their pronounced UK gender pay gap – the brands (all of which referenced The Women’s Euros in the campaigns), ranged from Booking.com, which had the biggest highlighted gap of at 41.8%, to Visa, which has the smallest, at 11.8%.). With great publicity comes great responsibility, particularly when it comes to women’s football and the quest for parity with the men’s game.
With this potential to place your brand alongside such an important sporting event, there are many media options offering specific packages to brands this summer. Social platforms offer a substantial opportunity to brands; to reach audiences of all ages, engage and connect with fans sharing the same passion.
Podcasts are another great way to engage football fans who will be consuming World Cup content. Audio is a high-attention environment, and with 90% of Acast’s listens occurring through headphones this offers an opportunity to reach an engaged audience listening by themselves. Acast offer a plethora of female fronted podcasts including ‘Upfront’ & ‘Boots, Balls & Bras’, as well as their flagship football podcasts such as Guardian Football Weekly which will cover the tournament.
As discussed above, Good-Loop offer the double pronged opportunity of creating an engaging experience for viewers, whilst also doing good - a meaningful option for brands looking to connect with Women’s FIFA World Cup. Good-Loop have created a custom package to fund women’s sports groups, users choose from a shortlist of charities by watching an ad, offering brands the opportunity to not only bring the feel-good factor and show social purpose, but to also create positive connections with fans and consumers.
The Women’s FIFA World Cup will present brands with huge opportunities on a global scale; however, brands need to be aware that consumers will only side with their campaign if they are serious about building a relationship to the cause, in this case, building a relationship and pushing women’s sports and gender equality. Brands need to avoid tokenism and ensure long term support.