Women's World Cup Ads Are Too 'Woke' To Engage

You would have thought the Women's World Cup would be a gift for advertisers, but the latest research from Kantar would suggest it is an open goal that has been missed by all the brands involved.

In England, right now, people are genuinely excited by the progress of the Lionesses to tomorrow's semi-final against the USA. The country is gripped by another "it's coming home" feeling, like that of two years ago when England's men made it to the semi-final. 

it's great timing for the tournament too. In the UK, new ad rules now mean advertisers cannot rely on lazy stereotypes and there is a general drive to improve gender balance within business to ensure that gender pay gaps move in the right direction.

Everything seems perfectly aligned for advertisers spending budget on this breakthrough event.

However, just as the country is gripped by the Lionesses, Kantar's report suggests that none of the advertisers associating themselves with the event are doing a particularly good job, which made me think that I couldn't really recall an ad that caught the public's attention, as usually happens with the men's World Cup. 

It's important to note that in the UK, the games are on the BBC and so do not have ad breaks or slots for sponsors' idents. This means the awareness that a brand is involved in the competition must come through other channels.

According to Kantar, however, this lack of being able to advertise before, during or after the game is not the big issue. The thing brands are getting wrong is that even during the ad, people are not sure who the brand is.

Their conclusion is that if you don't even know which brand is advertising during their slot, the chance of you remembering them later on, and potentially becoming a customer, are pretty slim. 

The research company is not slamming the advertisers completely, however. One potential reason for a surprisingly low level of brand recognition, and hence recall, is that the ads were engaging and so people got involved more in the content than the name bringing them the content.

Individual scores are not being revealed, but ads from Nike, Lucazade Sport and Budweiser were the most enjoyable, while those from the BBC (advertising their coverage) and Head & Shoulders were the least enjoyable. 

Interestingly, the research showed the same levels of enjoyment and engagement regardless of gender or interest in football, meaning the ads were enjoyed to the same level whether someone was male or female, although they failed to strike a chord when it comes to recognition and recall.

This was attributed to the brand's focus on gender and societal issues without putting much branding in the ad itself, usually stick to just a logo right at the end. The only brand that avoided this trap was Coca-Cola. 

Overall, the message from the research is that football is all about the love of the game and the fun of playing and watching it. The brands involved in the Women's World Cup have steered more to empowerment messages for women -- which is completely understandable -- but lack a passion for the love of the game because they focus on societal issues.

The advertisers have clearly tried to do the right thing, but according to Kantar, they have not left women feeling more empowered, and haven't left football fans excited by the spectacle of a World Cup. 

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