Traditionally, women’s sports are not associated with prominent TV advertising campaigns; men’s tournaments have taken the lead and captured marketing budgets in this arena for years. But the playing field is equalising, helped in part by the record-breaking number of viewers (11.7 million) for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup final. And we’re seeing the shift in brands looking to capitalise on the opportunities within female sports.
So Why Are New “Team Tactics” Needed?
Olympic champions of both genders have long been hailed heroes, with many personalities picking up lucrative advertising and sponsorship deals with global brands. While it is not a new tactic for sportsmen, this trend is skyrocketing for women in 2019, with the televised football, cricket and netball World Cups, plus Wimbledon, all leading to the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo.
Women’s sport has also received an increase in financial support across the board, from prize money to endorsements. This has increased the amount of female athletes able to go professional and expand the opportunities for brands to work with talented athletes.
Couple these opportunities with the many gender equality initiatives that dominated the media narrative across industries in the past year -- such as the BBC’s 50:50 Project, #GirlGaze, the Global Fund for Women and STEM for Her -- and the future looks bright.
How Can Brands “Go The Distance?”
The BBC was the official broadcasting partner for the recent Football World Cup. The ad free nature of the BBC meant that brands could not advertise directly alongside the games, but the conversation and resulting impact reached much further for future sporting events.
Broadcasters now have a responsibility to maintain momentum around women's sporting events to usher in a new era. With opportunities aplenty, brands looking to get a slice of the action must be conscious of how they execute creative and then how they define success.
In this digital age, brand conversations with the consumer are increasingly creative -- especially across social platforms -- but marketers risk missing out if they don't factor in TV.
The undeniable reach of TV -- which still captures 3 hours, 34 minutes of the UK's attention each day, meaning that each viewer sees on average 41 TV ads a day -- is key to deliver long-term impact.
In fact, TV ads deliver 70% return in the short-term, rising to 86% in the three years after a campaign ends. As a driver of both online and offline response, adding TV to a campaign strategy increases effectiveness by 40%.
For brands to be seen as modern and contextually relevant, they must align messaging to media conversations and consumer perception. A successful strategy, with clear key performance indicators (KPIs) that define success will make the difference for that all-important return on investment (ROI).
How Do Brands Score The “Winning Penalty?”
The challenge for sporting bodies is to grow popularity within existing audiences, as well as awareness with potential spectators. If achieved, this will increasingly encourage brands to commit budgets -- with the long-term goal being to provide a platform for female sports beyond major, global events. Once established, opportunities for brands will increase, meaning that now is the time to be part of the “first wave” to market. This legacy support for an emerging market allows brands the flexibility to experiment further with their creative and provides them with the opportunity to reach a new audience.
Building loyalty is a priority for all brands, no matter what their size.
While in other advertising opportunities brands are looking to achieve reach and relevance, in women's sports, advertisers have the chance to maximise but also extend brand awareness with emotional response.
Live sports in particular allow advertisers to think beyond the “what, when and how” of TV attribution, with data from digital sources providing real-time audience insights. This opens up the opportunity for a broader understanding of consumer response patterns -- and how to target them across the media mix.
When considering opportunities within sports, brands are looking for platforms where they can showcase their message clearly. Women's sports provide a largely untapped market -- ripe for creative, flexible and robust mixed-media marketing initiatives.
Brands' commercial commitments in line with women's sports still have a ways to do in order to match the peak of men's sports -- so now is the time to act for both global advertisers and disruptor start-ups to score a goal.