World-Cup Wizards: Nike's Time Warp, Under Armour's Rap Battle

When New Zealand and Norway kick off the Women’s World Cup next week, there’s more on the line than a trophy. Some of the planet’s biggest marketers will pour on the marketing, raining new creative and new products on fans. Their hope? Convincing women that maybe, they really do think women athletes are as important as men.

Forrester estimates that a billion people will engage with the games this year, with 90% of the games’ ad inventory sold out by June. And while that’s a long way from the 5 billion who engaged with the men’s games, it will still be the most attended Women’s World Cup ever.

“For global brands, few environments match the expansiveness of the soccer universe,” writes Dipanjan Chatterjee, vice president and principal analyst, in his commentary. “It’s the common denominator among 210 countries where it’s played. Brands targeting younger women will find a ready audience at this World Cup — Gen Z women are 1.6 times as likely to be highly engaged soccer fans as women 45 and over.” 



Cue the ad onslaught, and get ready to be impressed. We’ll start with the best, and if you haven’t seen it yet, we promise it will start cropping up in your news feed, shared by young athletes everywhere.

There's a marvelous deepfake for Orange, the French telecom company, created by the ad agency Marcel. Halfway through the two-minute film, it reveals that riveting gameplay is a trick. The ad superimposed men’s faces on the dazzling moves of France’s women’s team, including  phenoms like Sakina Karchaoui and Delphine Cascarino

Nike is going full-on comedy, highlighting a dad who knocked himself into a coma as Brandi Chastain made her historic kick in the 1999 games. In a spot called “What the Football,” he’s awakened just in time to see how far the game has come. His now-grown daughter talks him through the current lineup, with fast-moving appearances from Nike’s many athletes. Those include England’s Chloe Kelly, Brazil’s Debinha, Sophia Smith, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe from the U.S., and of course, Norway’s Ada Hegerberg. Chastain makes a cameo, as well.

Under Armour is on the pitch, too. The company is in serious need of a win for its women’s products, and its new CEO has vowed to make that a priority. Besides new shoes and what looks to be an innovative sports bra, it’s bringing its revived “Protect this House” campaign to the games with a rap battle.

The company has 15 professional female footballers on its roster, including American Kelley O’Hara and Britain’s Alex Greenwood. A music video pits the two athletes against each other, as singer Gavlyn from the U.S. faces off with Nadia Rose from England. The song is called “Armour Up.”

The campaign also includes full digital content that celebrates global football, including the journeys of athletes Jayde Riviere, Chloe Logarzo, Emily Fox, and Laura Freigang, watching them prepare for play on the game’s biggest stage.

Because girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys by age 14, the company is donating $500,000 worth of gear to 21 girls-serving organizations and schools, encouraging girls across the U.S. to stay in the game.

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