When ticket sales surpassed 1,032,884, one thing became clear: the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ would become the most highly attended women’s sports event of all time.
This year, the international soccer tournament, which has been held every four years since 1991 and recently surged in popularity, is doing some things differently. Hosted by Australia and New Zealand across ten stadiums in nine cities, it features the highest number of teams to compete yet (32). Eight nations, including Haiti, Ireland, Vietnam and Zambia, will compete for the very first time. The prize pot has increased threefold from 2019 to $110 million, with the eventual champion taking home $4,290,000.
The World Cup quarterfinal on Saturday, 12 August, saw more than three million Australians tune in to watch Australia’s Matildas beat France in a penalty shoot-out, making it the most-watched broadcast on television in 2023.
But there’s not just money to be made for the winners on the field. The benefits flow through the economy in industries like hospitality, merchandise and infrastructure. Rising interest in women’s sports is creating the potential for new sponsorship opportunities and the chance to inspire many young women and girls to pursue their dreams of competing on the world stage.
Many brands have been eager to get involved, scoring their own time in the spotlight in a number of ways: partnering with FIFA, advertising during broadcast time or featuring high-profile players in their ads. But can smaller brands that don’t have the same budget learn any lessons from how larger companies have capitalised on this major event, and can they do the same in their own way?
As the world watches the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™, those of us in business can benefit from asking ourselves what we can learn from other brands’ examples. How can we take inspiration from how companies have promoted themselves during this major event?
Why Brands Should Seize the Opportunities the FIFA Women’s World Cup Presents
The FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ kicked off on 20 July 2023. New players, pay rises, and the success of the Lionesses (England’s women’s football team) in the Euros all helped to build the suspense. Brands have launched advertisements featuring many of the star players of the tournament, such as Matildas captain Sam Kerr and American legend Megan Rapinoe, who is playing her fourth and final World Cup game.
The reasons why brands should seize the opportunities presented by the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ include:
Building brand loyalty among sports fans
You can build brand awareness and brand authority by creating a positive association between your brand and the things that people are passionate about, such as their favourite sports star or team. This isn’t just for brands in industries like health or activewear. Organisations of all kinds have been seizing the opportunities the FIFA Women’s World Cup presents.
Women’s soccer is growing in popularity
The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 was tipped to exceed two million viewers, almost double the amount that tuned into the 2019 tournament. The 2019 tournament exceeded previous years as well, with 17.27 million viewers per match on average, double the amount of the 2015 match. This reflects a greater interest in women’s sports across the board, with 2022 a year of astonishing growth for the popularity of the genre. Many viewers are new viewers, and brands have the opportunity to reach potential customers in a new arena.
Many new women’s soccer fans are Gen Z
The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 represents a golden opportunity for brands that want to reach a younger audience. Gen Z is tuning in, and according to the ‘Women’s Football Fandom in 2023’ report, these young fans are big fans. 58% of Gen Z women’s soccer fans identified themselves as “super fans” or those who went to as many games as possible. That figure dropped to 37% for fans aged 45 and older.
Women’s sports fans buy more sponsor products than men’s
A study by a sports marketing agency, The Space Between, revealed some interesting findings. Women’s sports fans are 25% more likely to buy sponsor products than men’s sports brands and are twice as likely to recall brands. They’re also, on average, more tech-savvy than men’s sports fans.
How Brands are Capitalising on the FIFA Women’s World Cup
Here are some examples of high-profile brands that have capitalised on the FIFA Women’s World Cup in creative ways:
Nike’s ‘Flip the Game’ ad features striker and Matildas captain Sam Kerr and capitalises on her signature “backflip” move after she scores a goal. The ad features various people – a barista, a family on their couch, a group of girls on a bus – watching her victory on their devices and backflipping in unison with her. The implication is that a victory for Kerr is something we can all share in.
This ad for Google’s ‘Fixed on Pixel’ campaign features the iconic Megan Rapinoe, who won the Best FIFA Women’s Player Award in 2019, enjoying the benefits of a Pixel phone and Pixel Watch while preparing for a game. Using the devices, Rapinoe unblurs her childhood memories, smashes her training regime and takes a selfie with fans. The Pixel’s benefits are demonstrated onscreen in moments like the one where Rapinoe zooms out to fit an entire row of fans in her selfie while maintaining perfect picture quality.
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is a UK charity focused on suicide prevention through life-changing services and campaigns. In the advertisement ‘Unseen Signals’ featuring Lioness Fran Kirby, they use a powerful metaphor to demonstrate how easy it is to miss a cry for help and to raise awareness of how support can save lives.
‘Watch More Women’s Sports’: that’s the name of scotch whiskey brand Johnnie Walker’s FIFA campaign. This campaign includes a collaboration with Hannah Waddingham of ‘Ted Lasso’ fame, in which she highlights some inequalities, such as the fact that although more than 40% of athletes are women, they receive less than 10% of total sports coverage. Johnnie Walker’s campaign also consists of partnerships with the news outlet Just Women’s Sports and the Women’s Sports Foundation.
In the lead-up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Football Australia launched the #LoveOurGame campaign showing young women and non-binary people between the ages of 16-28 playing football in different environments. In just 30 seconds, the ad weaves together footage of both players from the community with pros like Matilda's defender Charlotte Grant and captures the passion, the excitement and the sense of community of the game.
As the FIFA Women’s World Cup drew closer, Football Australia began capitalising on the attention and raising awareness of women’s football in other ways, such as by celebrating milestones like 100 Days to Go (April 11th) and Female Football Week (May 19th-28th).
French telecommunications company Orange, sponsors of the national team, has had a viral ad called ‘la Compil des Bleues’ sparking discussions on Twitter, Tiktok and Reddit. It shows a montage of skilled moves and top-notch playing that appears to be from the men’s team, with the caption “Only les Bleus can give us these emotions,” followed by “But that’s not them you’ve just seen”.
The trickery of visual effects is then revealed, and the players in action are revealed to be the women’s team, with the images of the male players covered by deepfake AI. The ad has generated a buzz, made headlines and challenged people’s preconceived notions. The discussions it has sparked in the industry have put both women’s sport and Orange in the spotlight.
Work with Anchor to Make the Most of Women’s Sporting Opportunities
You don’t have to wait until the next FIFA Women’s World Cup to find new potential customers among women’s sports fans. Anchor can help you build brand awareness and authority using creative solutions that make the most of local, national and international women’s sporting events. Contact us to score your own goals.