PUBLIC RELATIONS: The Untapped World Cup Market for Promotions and Marketing: Female Fans

by Agency 33 Strategist Danielle Ford

While the World Cup isn’t as celebrated in the US as it is in countries abroad, its popularity is growing, and with it, great opportunities for themed promotional campaigns. Research suggests there were over 26 billion television views of the World Cup in 2010. It offers a great opportunity to harness some of the momentum of fans’ excitement into learning more about your brand.

Unfortunately, it seems that marketers have failed to realize that antiquated stereotypes of soccer as a ‘men’s game’ women are bored by no longer hold true. While the majority of World Cup viewers may be men, anyone who’s been to a sports bar this June can tell you there are few tables during the games without at least one female fan. 

Check out our previous post How to Write a Great Press Release

Regardless, World Cup ads have primarily gone one of two ways: featuring women as sexual accessories (such as the Adidas shirts featuring bikini-clad women which ended up being pulled by the Brazilian Tourism Board), or portraying them as bored and uninterested, as in the British television ad below.

While it is easy to stew about how odious and stereotype-laden many of these ads are, the important point is: designing marking campaigns targeting engaged and interested female fans offers marketers powerful access to a growing and oft-ignored segment of the soccer market.

Two advertisers that have done a great job with strategies that engage men and women equally are highlighted below. 

Bavaria, a Dutch beer company, came up with a clever publicity strategy during the World Cup 2010. Designing the ‘DutchDress’ – a bright orange dress that would scream support for the Dutch team (and likely had a more flattering fit than most jerseys, another frustration female fans struggle with), they sent flash mobs of women in the outfit into practice matches in the Netherlands and in South African stadiums during the tournament. 

These flash mobs garnered a great deal of positive media attention, and as a result, sales of Bavaria cans rose faster than the market at 41% versus 12% and was declared the ‘best promotion of a non-sponsor during the World Cup.’

This McDonald’s ad, released in May 2014 in anticipation of the World Cup, is one of the most fun World Cup ads this summer. In an ad that easily could have featured all men, it’s inspiring to see such talented women kicking the ball around – including one doing it in high heels!

It’s not hard to do a campaign that engages women equally as men – but as we’ve seen, it’s not hard to slip into old stereotypes, either. Make your World Cup promotions a success this summer by making sure you’re not ignoring a valuable market – female soccer fans!