Jul 18, 2023

The Marketing Power of the FIFA Women’s World Cup

Written by Dan Hughes

The FIFA Women’s World Cup in soccer kicks off on 20th July! Footballers, fans, and organizations alike will flock to locations across host nations Australia and New Zealand to get involved in what promises to be an action-packed tournament.

All in all, this promises to be one of the most exciting soccer spectacles to date! Who are the favorites this time around? England, Australia, and Germany are expected to grab international glory and take the title from the US. And don’t forget that Tazuni the mascot is adding some high-flying action into the mix.

In addition to enjoying the thrills and spills on the pitch, many forward-thinking brands will be doing their best to leverage the colossal marketing power of this year’s Women’s World Cup.

From innovative brand partnerships to game-changing promotional campaigns to influencer marketing content, and beyond, the road to the Women’s World Cup has been paved with powerful marketing opportunities.

Let’s explore some of these.

The Women’s World Cup: a vessel for change

For too long, there has been a serious level of inequality present in women’s sport. Did you know that male sports pros make anywhere between 15% and 100% more than their talented female counterparts? And professional soccer is no exception.

Shamefully underfunded and undervalued, teams from Canada, Nigeria (who is potentially planning a boycott), and South Africa have all protested over pay-related issues in the lead-up to this year’s tournament. In fact, with little to no support from its home federation, the Jamaican women’s team had to set up multiple fundraisers and crowdfunders to cover its participation costs.

However, things are starting to change, and the playing field is leveling. One of the most noticeable markers of change in professional soccer is the fact that this year’s tournament is being led by FIFA’s first Chief Women’s Football Officer, Sarai Bareman.

With Bareman at the helm, this tournament promises to be a game changer. In 2020, FIFA’s rules on maternity leave were rewritten to reflect fairer, more realistic terms. These rules were strengthened by regulations that will enforce fines as well as transfer bans on clubs that discriminate against players during pregnancy. Building on these positive shifts, Bareman has curated partnerships, as well as communications, geared towards sharing a message of empowerment and equality while shining a brighter floodlight on the epic prowess of professional women’s football.

Given these developments, there is a clear opportunity to develop marketing campaigns that drive social change while capturing some of the most memorable moments in women’s football.

This year, one of the major brand partners of both FIFA and the England team is none other than Google. To promote Google Pixel’s new photographic function, ‘unblur’, the brand teamed up with ‘Lioness’ Lauren James to promote female empowerment.

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This slick and punchy video campaign centers around stopping and taking notice: a marketing metaphor for the level of empowerment and star quality that this year’s tournament promises to showcase.

Top tip: Read our Girls In Sport - Marketing and Awareness blog for tips and inspiration on crafting meaningful marketing campaigns that connect with your target audience on a more personal as well as emotional level.

Connect with your audience during this year’s tournament

As professional women’s soccer continues gaining momentum and migrating further towards the mainstream arena, an increasing number of brands are looking to leverage this year’s tournament in their marketing campaigns.

From the Barclays Women’s Super League to Lewes FC’s inspirational #WomenInFootball video campaign, social media is already proving to be an exciting, inspirational, and thought-provoking playing field for brand marketing in the build up to the tournament.

As we touched on earlier, The Reggae Girlz (the Jamaican women’s team) have generated a tremendous buzz with their vibrant crowdfunding content and inspirational fundraisers—setting the tone for the epic marketing as well as on-pitch action that lies ahead.

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According to Fox, 90% of this year’s World Cup advertising inventory is already sold out. Indeed, advertising revenue is 50% higher than 2019’s tournament—a testament to the rising power of the sport.

Go beyond the final whistle

In the digital age, there is seemingly infinite scope for creating meaningful brand experiences. By developing content and communications that extend far beyond the 90 minutes on the pitch, you can generate tremendous fan engagement.

Brands can create multi-channel content related to various aspects of the tournament, such as breaking news, player spotlights, and immersive experiences (including in-app games, quizzes, or augmented reality features). All these tactics enable you to boost your brand awareness while capturing a wealth of those all-important big moments.

Here are just two broadcasters that are upping their game for the tournament.

In addition to its stunning CG-infused World Cup multi-channel marketing campaign, UK broadcaster ITV is complementing its FIFA coverage partnership with content that extends beyond the on-pitch action.

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With timely social media updates surrounding the tournament’s action and engaging in-app coverage, ITV is on a mission to bring women’s soccer to the forefront of public consciousness.

Broadcasting colossus Telemundo is taking a similarly extensive approach to its Spanish-language coverage this year. The broadcaster will publish inspirational multi-channel content, in addition to broadcasting all 64 matches across its network. Not only is this a flagship moment for Telemundo—this all-encompassing effort will offer an outstanding brand experience to Latino/Latina soccer fans across the globe.

Top tip: Our Nike: Always Ahead of the Curve case study gives you an insight into how one of the world’s biggest sports brands delivers incredible brand experiences.

Strike up the right influencer partnerships

The Women’s World Cup 2023 offers great opportunities for partnering up the right influencers and connecting with droves of highly engaged soccer fans. Influencer marketing is an ever-powerful force, and the lead up to this year’s tournament has already seen its fair share of action.

According to data analysts Gracenote Nielsen, Alisha Lehmann of Aston Villa and Switzerland is this year’s top-ranking influencer so far. With branded posts that are worth three times more than any other female player in the World Cup, Lehmann has emerged as a media powerhouse, with many top-flight brands likely to want to team up with her on brand-boosting content during this year’s tournament.

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While not quite as popular as Lehmann, Barcelona’s and Spain’s very own Alexia Putellas has a fan reach of 2.8 million—with an average post value of £88,853. Patella’s light-hearted and comedic style of content is a consistent hit with soccer fans and sporting brands alike.

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Marta Silva, Orlando Pride and Brazil goal-scoring sensation, is also a prominent women’s soccer influencer, with a follower base of 2.6 million and an average post value of £10,070. She serves up visually stunning content that offers a glimpse into her professional, as well as personal, life.

In addition to the big shots, there are plenty of more niche or micro influencers worth exploring for brand partnerships during this year’s Women’s World Cup.

Top tip: Our ultimate guide to influencer marketing will tell you all you need to know about striking up brand partnerships that will offer the best possible return on investment (ROI).

Make your messaging inspirational AND playful

This year’s World Cup offers a great opportunity to create campaign messaging that serves as a real catalyst for positive change, while inspiring a whole new generation of empowered female sporting professionals.

To win over your audience, you need to strike the balance between impactful, inspirational, and playful content. Remember, you can convey a meaningful message while still tapping into the giddy excitement of the beautiful game. Brands that achieve this balance are likely to score the best results.

U.S. Soccer’s World Cup 2023 marketing campaign, for instance, sports the inspirational bilingual tagline, “Always Possible/Todo es Posible”. This high-level campaign will see a host of lively visuals published across channels to create meaningful engagement with a young multicultural fanbase.

In addition to its impactful and inspirational messaging, the campaign’s tone sports an exciting and lighthearted feel that highlights the fun-filled nature of the tournament.

Top tip: Listen to our definitive podcast on the Art of Digital Copywriting for niche tips and advice on striking the perfect balance with your marketing messaging, campaigns, and communications.

Final thoughts

“This year’s Women’s World Cup can be a catalyst for change, with brands and media owners playing a critical role.” Think with Google

While we’ve yet to see the full impact of these inspirational marketing campaigns, one thing’s for sure: the Women’s World Cup is packed with brand-boosting marketing opportunities.

With the right messaging, you can boost your brand awareness by riding the crest of this ever-growing sporting wave. Choose messaging that is meaningful yet inspirational, and you will get ahead during this year’s tournament, and beyond.

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Dan Hughes
Dan Hughes

Dan is a content writer specializing in digital marketing, emerging tech, music and looking after a toddler. You can find out more about him and his work by visiting his Catchy Space.

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