This past summer’s 2018 FIFA World Cup was the usual spectacle that never seems to disappoint. That the tournament is quadrennial is part of its mystique, however, it also leaves the World longing for more. In particular, there is a void for American brands, many of which still (incorrectly) believe that only soccer events which contain the words “World” and “Cup” are worthy of leveraging. Luckily in this instance, the closing of one door leads directly to the opening of another, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
There are numerous factors to take into consideration when assessing the power of brand association with the Women’s World Cup (whether officially or unofficially).
In stark contrast to the men’s event, the U.S. team is both in the tournament and the likely favorite to win. Domestically, an argument can be made that the Women’s tournament is just as powerful for brands as its male counterpart, and perhaps even more so if leveraged properly.
The impact of the women’s game internationally still has a long way to climb to catch up with the U.S., however, the women’s game is seeing very significant growth on a global scale.
The continued growth of social media and other alternative outlets allows real conversations to organically drive the dialogue (rather than the media).
The sociopolitical climate has never been more intense, which can be effectively leveraged in connection with the Women’s World Cup, if done properly.
Let’s set the table by looking back at the social impact of the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Of course, the best way to get a quick snapshot from four years ago is to review social media data.
Per facebook, over nine million users took to the social network during the World Cup final, producing 20 million interactions.
Per Twitter, they recorded over 9 Billion impressions during the month-long event.
In addition to impressive gross usage numbers, the event also did extremely well in the context of celebrity social media interaction:
Social media has, of course, seen dramatic growth in the three and a half years since the last Women’s World Cup. According to Statista, FB had roughly 1.5B MAUs in Q2 2015, and three years later has over 2.2B. Per TechCrunch, Instagram MAUs have exploded from 400M in September 2015 to over 1 Billion in June 2018.
Additionally, there are new and large players in the space. While western social platforms are generally banned in China, there have been a couple of social video sharing apps emanate from China with significant western user bases. Two of the three most downloaded social video apps (TikTok and Vigo) are produced by Beijing based ByteDance, according to Sensor Tower. All of this means the continued shrinking of the World, which of course has a multiplying effect on the global interactions related to events such as the Women’s World Cup.
From a pure sporting standpoint, the women’s game continues to gain significant momentum with more professional leagues from countries around the World popping up each year. Just this month, FIFA unveiled a new global strategy to grow the women’s game. The sport’s world governing body wants to see women’s participation double to 60 million worldwide by 2016. A key component will be insuring all associations have comprehensive women’s plans in place by 2026. History has clearly taught us that all things FIFA should be viewed with a certain degree of skepticism, however, this does remain an important step in the quest for gender equity in the World’s game. FIFA is counting on the 2019 WWC to play an integral role in the early success of their new strategy.
Now, factor in the significant sociopolitical variables which have had such a major impact around the world since the last Women’s World Cup, and the environment is uniquely poised for advertisers to form a true connection with consumers.
Never have audiences been more acutely aware of when brands are purposefully tying their advertising messages to reflect inclusion and authenticity. Per a recent research study performed by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA):
New research released by ANA’s #SeeHer movement, in collaboration with TiVo, demonstrates that ads that portray women accurately work even better when paired with programming that also portrays women accurately[i]. It’s called GEM™fit: when ads that score high in the ANA’s Gender Equality Measure (GEM™) are aired on high-scoring programs, they deliver better sales than when airing on low-scoring programs.
TiVo conducted advanced analyses using GEM™ scores across select consumer packaged goods advertising and the programs they aired within. The research showed that ads with a high GEM™ score generated double-digit incremental sales per rating point post ad exposure, when they’re aired on shows that also have a high GEM™ score.
What programming could more accurately portray women, than the pinnacle of women’s sport? In reality, it’s not portraying, it’s simply showcasing, which is even more powerful. There is no fabrication, it’s just teams of women from around the world providing an entertainment platform for all to enjoy. To that end, the options for brands (whether large or small) to leverage this event at this unique moment in time are limitless.
As budgeting season goes through its motions at companies and agencies around the country, it’s the ideal time to consider how next summer’s tournament can become a key component of a brands’ marketing mix. Those which are able to successfully link their brand in an authentic way, stand to benefit immensely.