England’s Lionesses take on Spain in the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup final on 20th August, which will bring down the curtain on a record-breaking few weeks in Australia and New Zealand.
The event hasn’t only brought out the best from some of the most exciting players in the women’s game, but it has also inspired creativity from marketers, who have been doing their utmost to ensure that their campaigns are the ones that go viral and maximise engagement with fans.
Brands such as Nike, Coca-Cola, Roblox and Google Pixel have all run ads celebrating the tournament, while some of the competing teams have been working with partners to amplify the messages most important to them.
As the World Cup draws to a close, five members of SportsPro’s NEW ERA class of 2022/23 pick out their favourite campaigns from the event and outline what has made them stand out.
USWNT Unite for Mental Health
Collaborators: USWNT, Fox Sports, Common Goal
This campaign feels very timely, both personally and professionally. The increasingly vulnerable mental health of young people and the potential to utilise sport platforms to support balanced and healthy minds have recently become priorities for my teams to explore. While not everyone will experience mental health disorders in their lifetime, it’s likely that we all will encounter compromised emotional and social health, either directly or indirectly, at some point.
Global sporting events like the World Cup have the remarkable ability to intensify emotions and unite diverse peoples like few other things can. The initial inspiration for this campaign is sobering, but it impressively leverages the powerful brands of the USWNT and World Cup to destigmatise mental health challenges of all kinds and gather support for a project that could have a lasting impact beyond this event.
Sport has not always been a welcoming space for psychological vulnerability, but this campaign is not solely about optimising mental performance for athletes. It emphasises whole health for a good life through ongoing programmatic efforts, which feels like an important legacy to build for a World Cup campaign.
– Hana Taiji, Director of Purpose, SixFive Sports & Entertainment
Match Day Memos, Johnnie Walker
Collaborators: Johnnie Walker, Just Women’s Sports, Hannah Waddingham
Agency: Solar (Hello Sunshine)
Whiskey brand Johnnie Walker has teamed up with Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham and digital media platform Just Women’s Sports to encourage the world to watch more women’s sports. In the campaign, Waddingham informs audiences that despite 40 per cent of all athletes being women, women’s sport still receives only a ten per cent share of sports coverage.
Not only is Johnnie Walker associating its brand with one of the biggest international soccer tournaments, it also makes multiple meaningful call to actions to encourage audience engagement and to support grassroots soccer.
From the launch of the campaign until 20th August 20, fans can text EQUITY to a dedicated number to receive ‘Match Day Memos’ from Emmy award winner Waddingham. Although, unfortunately, I think this is inaccessible outside of the US, so my only criticism is that this should be global!
The company is also donating US$100,000 to the Women’s Sports Foundation to support the work it does in grassroots soccer so women and girls have equal opportunity to play.
– Charlie Sizer, Global Partnerships Manager, DAZN
Fifa Women’s World Cup in the Upland metaverse
Collaborators: Fifa, Uplandme, Inc
In the evolving world of women’s soccer campaigns, the Web 3.0-based metaverse experience from Fifa and Upland is a prime example of how brands are tapping into the vast potential of gamification to engage users in deeper, more meaningful ways.
Upland’s Women’s World Cup metaverse experience allows fans to interact in 3D virtual worlds and participate in platform-sponsored events, contests and challenges
As a product and UX/UI designer, I often turn to ‘Actionable Gamification’ by Yu-Kai Chou for inspiration. Drawing from his Octalysis framework for behavioural design, I believe a huge reason for the Fifa/Upland campaign’s success is that it brilliantly incorporates six out of the eight core drives of human motivation.
From creating a sense of purpose and belonging to fostering creativity and social connections, this isn’t just a digital campaign. It’s also a masterclass in gamification, potentially setting a new standard for fan engagement in our increasingly digital world. For a deeper dive into the six core drives in this campaign, check out this LinkedIn article.
– Sahaj Shah, Product & UX/UI Designer, Areto Labs
Debinha | Joga Forever, Nike Football
Collaborators: Nike, Debinha
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Portland
Nike has released a couple of adverts highlighting some of the star players from various teams participating in the Women’s World Cup as part of its ‘What the Football’ campaign, and this one with Debinha is my favourite. Why? Because of its simplicity! No excessive branding, no voiceover, and no need for Hollywood star or male soccer player cameos (unless you count the Ronaldo bobble head!). Instead, a fun and playful advert showcasing Debinha’s insane footwork and juggling skills.
You cannot beat Brazil’s love for the game. The country’s government even allows civil servants to show up later at work to make up for the early morning matches! I also commend the Canarinhas’ strong statement on human rights upon their arrival in Australia where the team plane showed images and text condemning the Iranian government’s treatment of women. Despite’s Fifa’s ban on players wearing rainbow armbands or other clothing on the pitch which may be politically led, the women’s teams have found other ways of using the world cup stage to send a clear message.
– Helen Praz, Director, Content Operations and Media Rights, Football Marketing Asia
La Compil des Bleues, Orange
Collaborators: Orange, French Football Federation (FFF)
I think this is an absolutely brilliant ad that showcases the beauty of women’s soccer. It captures the skills, talents of female players and reinforces that women’s soccer is just that: soccer!
I like that it uses the men’s national team to draw you in but then midway forces viewers to confront and check their bias against women’s soccer. I shared the ad with quite a number of people and had some come back to ask when the Women’s World Cup was starting so they could watch to see what they have been missing out on (their words!).
Finally, I appreciate the intentionality from Orange going through hours of archive, sorting footage and using tech to put this all together. That’s genuine support.
– Noka Agudah, Head, Legal & Women’s Sports, Integral
Hana Taiji, Charlie Sizer, Sahaj Shah, Noka Agudah and Helen Praz are all members of SportsPro’s NEW ERA class of 2022/23. To find out more about the programme, click here. To apply for 2023/24, click here.