In a fast, ever changing world, for a sports brand to remain successful they must focus on a consistent approach which recognises and meets the consumer expectations and needs.
Following the success of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, are the major brands now becoming inconsistent by failing to continually meet these requirements and therefore, are they missing out on valuable marketing opportunities whilst at the same time, continued growth?
‘Breaking through the mainstream’, capturing a new audience and increasing the awareness of the game have until recently, all been major barriers within women’s football.
Presenting the opportunity to ‘leverage a culturally relevant moment‘ and tap into a growing market, the World Cup (held in France 2019) was a major tournament which provided the opportunity to engage with the customer by offering exciting and immersive experiences through various social media channels.
The anticipation of the World Cup helped to provide a springboard toward the launch of numerous sponsorship and advertising campaigns, many of which were seen to be ‘a signal of the growing interest for women’s football across the industry‘.
Major brands who seized the opportunity to capture, anticipate and drive customer mood, included Head & Shoulders ‘3 lines‘ campaign, inspiring fans to support the England Women’s Football Team by being ‘creative’ with their own hair styles and Lucozade Sport which launched two limited edition bottles as part of it’s £2 million sponsorship deal with the England Team, featuring two of the players, Steph Houghton and Nikita Parris.
Substantial investments and sponsorship deals were provided by Visa (full sponsorship to the World Cup) and Barclays who stepped in to sponsor the Women’s Super League from next season in a deal seen to be “the biggest ever investment in UK women’s sport by a brand”.
In an effort to emulate and support these campaigns, UEFA (Union of European Football Associations, for the first time, launched a women’s football strategy, aiming to double the number of female players in Europe by 2024 and FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) launching it’s ‘Together We Play Strong’ campaign in 2017 which targeted growth and participation in the game.
With the Women’s Super League now attracting a much larger and wider audience along with other domestic leagues and competitions gaining more coverage, do the major sports brands now need to focus on a niche marketing strategy and the huge commercial benefit that may be developed through this?
By heightening the profile of the sport, Women’s football is indeed raising the stakes and the marketing opportunity for sponsors and sports brands alike. This may provide the ideal platform for brands to convey their credentials and recognise the enormous potential to move forward with.
‘Smarter’ brands may well see the benefits offered however, to achieve continued success in a competitive world, “sport brands must face the difficult challenge to innovate to remain competitive” (Sport Brands, Bouchet) and it remains to be seen whether “more need to wake up to the opportunity that women’s sport can offer”.
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