Here at Escapade, we have loved following the Women’s World Cup! From epic penalty shootouts to the Lionesses reaching a historic final and the overall victory of Spain, it has been an amazing tournament to watch and celebrate!
As someone who played in a football team as a young girl (I was the goalkeeper!) it has been so inspiring watching the rise of the Lionesses, as well as seeing more people enjoy watching women’s football.
Including brands. Many notable brands decided to invest in advertising and sponsorship deals related to the tournament this year, as the growing excitement for woman’s football has meant brands can reach a broader audience watching the matches.
So which brand made the first move? Who had the most creative and empowering advert? And will sponsorship from brands become a long-term investment in women’s football? Let’s take a look below!
How it started
As reported by MarTech, FIFA had signed up ‘30 different brand sponsors’ for the 2023 Women’s World Cup. However, this came after some initial hesitation from brands to invest in sponsorship after some controversies surrounding securing TV rights. This was in part due to this year’s competition being hosted by Australia and New Zealand, which meant many countries would be watching the games in the early morning hours at home. This would not be ideal for brands looking to get lots of eyes on their advertising campaigns.
But eventually the deals were done, and some major brands were keen to get involved!
Early kick offs as an advantage
One brand who used the early starts to their advantage was Weetabix. As stated by Marketing Week, Weetabix invested ‘£2.2m into its TV campaigns for the tournament, hoping to capitalise on the morning viewers to remind them to start the day with a bowl of cereal’.
They also partnered with Boxpark Wembley to create ‘Weetaboxpark’, a unique fan experience where spectators could watch two England Group stage matches whilst enjoying a fabulous Weetabix breakfast and a range of family activities.
This is a perfect example of a brand seizing an opportunity to align their values with a major sporting event, by using the time difference to position themselves naturally ahead of other brands.
One of the biggest companies to get things under way was Unilever. Back in May it announced that its brands Dove, Sure, Lux, and Lifebuoy would be official sponsors of the Women’s World Cup. This was the first time that a collection of personal care products had sponsored a men’s or women’s World Cup and showed how these brands seized this new opportunity.
What was also great to see was that part of Unilever’s sponsorship deal was a partnership with FIFA on its Women’s Development programme. The programme aims to provide support to women and girl’s football teams around the world. As reported by Marketing Week, Unilever would ‘also hand out 80,000 gift packs at FIFA events over the next few years’.
Female brand Venus also decided to get behind women’s football with their collaboration with England’s Lotte Wubben-Moy on their existing #MoveYourSkin campaign. Check out their advert below which aired during one of the opening fixtures of the World Cup:
These examples show how different brands who would not typically partner with the men’s football tournaments have used the Women’s World Cup as an opportunity to reach a new football loving audience.
Known as the ‘Official Beer of England’ since 2019, Budweiser, the proud partners of the England’s Women’s team, started their World Cup campaign with their advert featuring Beth Mead and England football legend Karen Carney. The advert depicted women’s football throughout the ages and can be seen below:
This was to coincide with their store activations which involved branded bucket hats being available to purchase in Asda, as well as a 50p donation being made to support women’s football via The Fa with every Tesco purchase of a 15x300ml pack of Budweiser.
Budweiser has described this as the ‘biggest trade campaign’ it has ever launched and goes to show how some big brands are seeing women’s football as a longer-term investment.
Empowering and Creative adverts
Not only is the rise of women’s football entering the mainstream empowering, but some of this year’s adverts have also made supporters and newbies to the game stop and think.
An international advert that got people talking was by French mobile network Orange which showed amazing play by the men’s French national team, involving players Kylian Mbappé and Olivier Giroud. Or did it? Check it out below:
Pretty clever right? As you can see, the twist for this advert was that the outstanding football featured was actually played by star female players, with the male players being superimposed on their bodies using AI.
In the caption of the ad on YouTube the organisation wrote ‘#TeamOrangeFootball proves that women’s football is as technical as men’s football’.
Fans praised this advert on social media for breaking the stigma attached to women’s football that women do not have the same high level football skills as men.
A clear and empowering message by a brand achieved in an extremely creative way.
An advert that really stuck with me was Calm’s collaboration with England star Fran Kirby, who is also an ambassador for the charity. Their advert ‘Unseen Signals’ was created to tackle the increasing rates of suicide in young women under 25.
Their tagline on their YouTube caption states ‘When a player is injured on pitch, the help is immediate. But when young women are suicidal, their signals for help go unseen’. Watch this powerful advert below:
If you would like to support someone you love or are looking for personal support, check out Calm’s practical step-by-step guide.
What has linked all these campaigns is the variety and broadness in audience targeting that you do not always see in men’s football advertising. The growing excitement and breadth of the audience for the tournament has shocked brands, as it was probably assumed that the tournament would appeal mainly to women.
This shows how advertisers used the Woman’s World Cup to appeal to a new football audience. Typical TV ads for the men’s football featuring gambling, flashy cars, or drink were replaced with family-friendly content, and ads for healthy food, holidays, and personal care products as examples.
As well as this TikTok partnered with FIFA to create tailored content for the Women’s World Cup, and they teamed up with top creators around the world. Some examples included behind the scenes content, pre-match videos, and match highlights. Teaming up with TikTok gave FIFA the opportunity to connect with a Gen Z fan base, which again shows how women’s football can reach a variety of ages.
It is great to see that the target audience for women’s football is growing as more people are getting involved in supporting their national and local women’s football teams.
It has been great to see so many notable brands get behind the Women’s World Cup this year. But the big question is… will the interest from brands in women’s football remain? And will they help to invest in the future of the sport?
It is all well and good brands jumping on the trends, especially in the UK with the Lionesses’ triumph at the Euros 2022, and their recent historic World Cup final, but what really counts is the authenticity of these partnerships. The hope is that brands will invest long term in supporting women’s football and not use it as a temporary fad to exploit.
The recent surge in sponsorship has made this idea look more promising. And the more people that get behind women’s football, the more that brands will hopefully get on board with sponsorships. It’s critical for women’s football that this support doesn’t go away and instead keeps on rising.
Overall, the Lionesess should be so proud of all they have achieved at this World Cup. I, along with many other supporters, look forward to seeing what they accomplish next!
Want to deep dive into other high-profile campaigns? Check out Escapade’s blog posts on It’s a Barbie World: 5 Marketing and Consumer PR Strategies that have Won Fan’s Hearts and Marketing Strategies to Takeaway from Rihanna Superbowl!
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