How Marketing is Fuelling the Rise of Women’s Football at The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023

August 9, 2023

In recent years, women's sports have made significant strides towards achieving the recognition and respect they truly deserve.

Among various sporting events, this year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup is a prime example of how marketing is continuing to play a crucial role in catapulting women's sports into the global limelight.

As the 2023 Women's World Cup unfolds, marketing campaigns from a smattering of brands have been key in boosting the popularity of women's sports and redefining gender equality in the realm of athleticism.

Historically, women's sports have been overshadowed by their male counterparts, often relegated to the periphery of media attention and financial investment.

However, the emergence of this year’s Women's World Cup has signalled a paradigm shift, embracing the power of marketing to champion gender equality and break down long standing stereotypes.

One of the most evident strategies employed by the organisers of the Women's World Cup is inclusive marketing. Brands and sponsors have backed the event with a clear message: women's sports are equally exciting, competitive, and worthy of admiration as men's.

Campaigns such as Adidas’ “Play until they can’t look away” have embraced this messaging wholeheartedly. Featuring a star studded lineup of male footballing icons (Beckham, Messi, Wright, Goretzka) being dazzled by next gen female footballers Alessia Russo, Lena Oberdorf and Mary Fowler.

Furthermore, social media campaigns have been playing a pivotal role in propelling the Women's World Cup into the spotlight. The power of social platforms have been harnessed to create viral content and drive conversations about the tournament.

Google’s #FixedOnPixel campaign featuring Megan Rapinoe is just one example of a brand who has (however loosely) leaned on one of the women’s game’s biggest stars to create a social campaign that is geared towards empowering the next generation of female sports stars.

The Women's World Cup, particularly in Australia, has also leveraged technology to enhance the viewing experience. With an increased focus on live streaming and user-friendly apps, fans have been able to access matches on multiple devices and platforms.

The convenience and accessibility has attracted new audiences who might not have had the opportunity to watch the games through traditional channels. By adapting to the changing preferences of modern sports consumers, the tournament has opened doors for an unprecedented level of global viewers.

Closer to home, Optus’ and 7’s digital platforms created a record breaking night for The Matilda’s with 2 million people tuning in to watch their win over Ireland despite the absence of their star player, Sam Kerr.

And when looking at in-game tech, you could even argue that FIFA’s decisions to implement semi-automated offside VAR as well as micing up the referees was a marketing ploy to make the product more appealing and stir up some drama ahead of the tournament.

The marketing efforts surrounding the Women's World Cup have not been limited to the tournament itself. Sustained promotional activities have been undertaken to promote women's football at the grassroots level.

Initiatives like school programs, community outreach, and inequality awareness have been bolstered, aiming to create a level playing field for the next generation of female athletes. Hopeful Monsters have even been working with PARK to raise awareness to the fact that 96% of women footballers play in a men’s kit. A stat which shows that despite the world’s best marketing efforts, the work is far from over.

The Women's World Cup has unquestionably leant on the marketing of brands across a variety of industries to elevate the popularity of women's sports.

Through inclusive marketing campaigns, social media engagement, technological advancements, and grassroots development, the tournament has successfully captured the hearts of millions worldwide. Especially those in the host countries of Australia and New Zealand.

Beyond being a mere sporting event, the Women's World Cup has become a powerful movement for gender equality, showing the world that women's sports are not only equal but, in fact, an exhilarating and essential aspect of the sporting landscape.

As we celebrate the triumphs of these remarkable athletes, we should also celebrate the power of marketing in reshaping perceptions and fostering a future where women's sports are rightfully celebrated and cherished.

However, with the women’s world cup being held once every four years, the concern remains that brands are only jumping on the bandwagon while it’s trendy. When the same brand’s that endorse and hype women’s sport at an international level start to do it at a national and grassroots level, then we can truly start to be proud of the work that marketing does to drive the women’s game forward.

Words by Garry Dawson.