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Women’s football: the brands producing game-changing content

 
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As the popularity of women’s football grows apace, we look at how brands can generate compelling content from the right sponsorship opportunity – and make a powerful connection with their audience.


It’s been a big fortnight for women’s football. Last week, high street chemist Boots announced a multimillion-pound sponsorship of the home nations and Republic of Ireland women’s football teams – this followed on from last month’s launch of Barclays’ record-breaking investment in the FA Women’s Super League. 

For anyone following sporting trends, this will come as no surprise. Research shows that more than half of Australians follow women’s sport, and in recent years more people have attended some women’s football matches at Wembley than men’s .  

So it’s no surprise that brands are taking notice, and beginning to invest game-changing sums. But how do businesses make an impactful connection with these new audiences, beyond simply plastering their logos and slogans across advertising hoardings?

The answer is by devising high quality content campaigns that capitalise on the wealth of opportunities that sponsorship brings. Any brand investing in women’s football will have access to high profile ambassadors, as well as a wealth of positive stories about the wider impact of sponsorship on the next generation of footballers. It’s how they use that access – and tell those stories – that will determine whether they can connect with their new-found global audience.

Quick off the mark

Chemical manufacturer Arkema, which sponsors the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in football, is a good example. The brand has interviewed star players on its group site, created the #BehindTheDreams hashtag and produced a raft of videos designed to inspire fans and would-be players.

In an innovative twist, Arkema has also created a live chatbot through Facebook Messenger, allowing fans to ask any questions they have about the tournament – rounding off a content strategy that’s all about ‘always-on’ audience engagement.

Unsurprisingly, Nike is another brand leading the way. For the launch of the USA women’s football shirt, the brand gathered both current stars and players from the heroic 1999 World Cup winning team to introduce the new design.

This resulted in an emotional, inspiring short film that both celebrated the current stars but also gave a respectful nod back to the sporting heroes of the previous generation. It also reinforced Nike’s authority in US women’s football – the brand was a pioneer in championing the women’s team 20 years ago.

Striking while the iron’s hot

Long-term Speak client Barclays has also made a major impact in women’s football. The bank’s record-breaking sponsorship of the FA Women’s Super League will see the division rebranded the Barclays FA Women’s Super League – and the introduction of a prize-pot for the first time . 

Our Speak newsroom team attended the launch event, producing a feature length piece on the announcement and a short film interviewing all-time leading England goalscorer Kelly Smith MBE and Barclays CEO Jes Staley. It has attracted almost 16,000 views on LinkedIn in the first two weeks, with one colleague commenting: “This partnership makes me so proud – we now really do have the ability to inspire generations of girls”. 

From a content perspective, the opportunities don’t end there. Barclays’ three-year deal gives the bank access to high-profile players, ambassadors and leaders in the sport and the grassroots organisations working to encourage and train the next generation of footballers – and the chance to tell their stories through owned channels and the media.

In the coming months, we’ll be helping Barclays to find these human stories and tell them in the most compelling way possible, from the children the deal inspires to the coaches it funds, from the clubs it saves to the opportunities it has afforded, the deal is the just the start. It’s the stories that come out of it that we’re excited about – and we’re sure audiences will be too.


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Joe McAweaney