The sport is gaining intense momentum globally—as more countries take part in international football competitions, the number of spectators and fans increases dramatically.
But, it’s not only women’s football that’s capturing audiences’ attention. Other team and individual sports like tennis and rugby are gaining popularity with sports fans worldwide. As interest in women’s sports expands, it comes as no surprise that more brands are trying to engage with their audiences by tapping into this market.
By the numbers: Data shows increased international investment in women in sports—now what?
How are brands seizing this opportunity? The answer is in the data.
According to Nielsen, in the UK alone 59% of the population have an active interest in women’s sport.
For brands, that means an opportunity to engage with a potential market of 24 million people.
Adding to that data, Women’s Euros 2022, which is being hosted in England, is seeing a record-breaking attendance.
The opening match was completely sold out by fans who watched England win against Austria.
The players’ popularity, many of who have become brand ambassadors to their countries and overnight idols to fans (especially among the younger audiences,) is accelerating thanks to social media.
Thus, brands are maximising this opportunity to build brand loyalty by creating impactful content that captures the players’ best moments from the tournament and sharing it across their social media platforms.
Although brands may not see tangible results in terms of revenue straightaway, the long-term brand benefits of increasing brand awareness, brand recall, and loyalty will eventually drive demand so brands can tap into more commercial opportunities in the future.
How brands connect emotionally with sports fans: Volkswagen and LinkedIn
In the lead-up to the 2022 Euros, many brands were already building up momentum. The tournament’s global sponsors like Nike, Visa, Adidas, and Volkswagen amongst others, have been actively engaging with their audiences for months.
In the case of Volkswagen, the car manufacturer saw it as an opportunity to stir up a little controversy with the launch of a provocative campaign last May.
The campaign’s slogan “Women play football. #notwomensfootball” was intended to draw attention to the discussion around social inclusion and equal opportunities in the sport.
Volkswagen explained that part of the conceptual discussion of the campaign was highlighting the ‘othering’ of women in sports—particularly the commonly used phrase “women’s football” to describe matches played by female teams.
They felt that by adding the word “women’s”, this gives the impression that this is not “real” football, whereas typically we use the term ‘football’ without any additional qualifiers when describing male sports teams.
The campaign uses a variety of different content; including videos, images, and articles, delivered across multiple digital channels to keep fans and the media engaged with the brand and the campaign messaging during the tournament.
A great example of the power of messaging and video production is the minute-long rally-cry video Volkswagen published as an advertisement. It encapsulates how gender norms have affected language in the sports industry:
When big brand names sign on to events as global sponsors, their sheer presence generates interest. However, local brand sponsors also draw specific attention on and off the pitch.
This is the case with LinkedIn, the professional networking platform, which became local sponsors of the Euro 22 and partners of the Inspired by England campaign.
The campaign uses Instagram to provide inspiring stories and content that celebrates #WEURO2022, women’s football, and its legacy, for future generations to enjoy the excitement of the sport.
A brand that is more associated with career development and job searching, LinkedIn has also made an impact by publishing a video of hardly-before-seen archive footage of the women’s sport to show how much it’s grown through the generations. They shared it across their social media platforms and the response was powerful.
“At LinkedIn we’re championing a gender equal world that’s diverse and inclusive, and it’s a privilege to support UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 which actively shares and celebrates these values. The tournament is set to be a landmark event that will provide professional female footballers with a platform to showcase their remarkable talent and achievements.”— Ngaire Moyes, Vice President, Communications and Brand, International at LinkedIn
Introducing audiences: Crossing frontiers using visual content
Although all eyes seem to be on the Euros tournament right now, across the pond in the United States, we’re also seeing a growing interest in women’s soccer (football) amongst sports fans.
For instance, Angel City FC, a National Women’s Soccer League which started in 2020 and debuted on the field this year (2022,) is owned by four high-profile celebrities: Natalie Portman, Eva Longoria, Mia Hamm, and Serena Williams.
Their combined influence not only increases the team’s exposure with non-sports fans, but it allows the team to pitch and partner with high-profile brands and influencers on content, or limited edition merchandise collaborations.
Following their recent wins, which have been sell-out matches, Angel City FC is already generating lots of buzz through social media. Similar to how Austin FC‘s hometown celebrity mascot is Matthew McConaughey, Angel City FC has started to earn some genuine celebrity support—like former Miami Heat basketball player Dwayne Wade hyping up fans or Jennifer Garner passing out oranges after a match in true football mum form.
Angel City FC recently became a PhotoShelter for Brands client, and they are using our digital asset management platform to organise, store, and share their image and video content with their fans, players, and other important partners and stakeholders in real-time. Thanks to the PhotoShelter Greenfly and Slack integrations and other functionalities, Angel City FC is amongst the many football teams taking advantage of PhotoShelter’s powerful cloud-based media library capabilities to elevate the fan experience.
Want to explore how other professional football teams and sports brands use digital asset management tools to organise their massive media libraries and share content in real-time across international markets?