How should brands respond to the rise in interest in women’s sport?

How should brands respond to the rise in interest in women’s sport?

By Kishan Thakar, Senior Account Manager at Fuse

The focus on women’s sport has grown exponentially over the last few years. With an ever-increasing amount of women’s sport being televised and participation levels at a record high, brands are continuing to look at women’s sport as a platform to help leverage their business and brand communications.

As broadcasters continue to fuel interest and more eyeballs are drawn to women’s sport, brands are responding by deepening their commitment to the women’s game. Both Visa and Adidas made emphatic statements last week, with the former committing to matching its activation budget for the 2018 FIFA (men’s) World Cup in its marketing investment around the Women’s World Cup this year, and the latter agreeing to pay its female ambassadors the same bonus payment as the men.

As the pressure to understand your audience and achieve cut-through grows, campaigns need to be authentic and strike the right chord to be remembered. Arguably, the key factor in the success of campaigns aimed at women in sport is the tone of voice and the creative style used to execute them.

Here we look at brands that have successfully judged the tone & creative and created impactful campaigns around women in sport.

One of the most memorable campaigns in women’s sport has got to be ‘This Girl Can’ launched by Sport England in 2015. The campaign was a rallying call-to-arms that was built on a killer insight: ‘It’s the fear of judgment that holds women back from participating in sport’. The campaign made exercise feel fun and inclusive and was a triumph for authenticity, with street-cast people rather than sporting stars at its heart. It challenged category conventions within the sport sector and rebranded women’s bodies in sport. This tone of voice and creativity really struck a chord and the campaign went on to be a huge success.

One brand that I’m sure nobody is surprised to see doing this well is Nike. Yes, it has an impressive list of global ambassadors that help bring its brand story to life, however the manner and tone of voice it uses in its creative is very influential.

A less well-known Nike campaign ran in India, a part of the world where female participation in sport has historically been taboo. ‘Da Da Ding’ went live in 2016 with the aim to reflect the diversity of India and of sport itself. You can run, dance, box, play tennis; the mere act of exertion makes you a member of this team. The bold creative style and use of music showed the power and resilience of India’s women in an attempt to start a movement to increase female participation in sport within the country.

Nike’s latest campaign ‘Dream Crazier’ has been widely well-received. This is a very direct message challenging the negative stereotypes some of the world holds against female athletes. The narration is a masterclass in the Nike ad formula: establish the obstacle, present the solution and use captivating imagery and athletes to land the key message. Again, this tone of voice transcends across all sport and like previous campaigns, is a head on challenge to the stereotypes associated with female sports and athletes. It has an edge. It’s inclusive and really helps drive participation across all sporting disciplines.

What ties all of these campaigns together is the desire to remove the mental obstacles preventing more women from taking part in sport. Each one drives home the inclusive message that anyone can participate in sport, and these brands are here to help them do it.