Earlier this month the U.S. Women’s National Team played a friendly against Belgium – an important preparation game for Coach Jill Ellis and her squad as they prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer. But the match played in front of a sold-out Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles was so much more than just another warm up challenge. It was an opportunity for the sport of soccer to recognize its past and celebrate the women of the 1999 U.S. team – colloquially known as the ’99ers – that won the FIFA Women’s World Cup some 20 years prior.
For those of us old enough to remember the ’99 Women’s World Cup, it’s truly a powerful memory. It’s one of those “do you remember where you were when” moments in the pantheon of American soccer lore. Mention players like Mia, Brandi, Julie, Briana, Michelle, or Kristine – all recognizable by their first names – and you’ll have instant connection for so many female – and male – Americans who experienced the excitement of the tournament in person or on television.
Kudos to U.S. Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Foundation for making this gathering a reality.
Fast forward 20 years and the impact of that moment in time is being felt more boldly than ever before. Societal and cultural shifts have intensified the spotlight on a broad range of women’s opportunity and female empowerment topics. While the years have changed and so have the players, once again, at the forefront of this movement, we find soccer and the U.S. Women’s National Team.
As marketers we wax poetic about tentpole events – those happenings that bring maximum attention and relevance. Certainly, the biggest tentpole soccer moment of 2019, and some may argue the biggest sporting tentpole moment of all, will be the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Embracing the female fan and consumer is at the forefront of many CMO’s minds these days. As a result, it’s not surprising we have found ourselves engaged in numerous conversations with brands over the last year about the FIFA Women’s World Cup and female interest and engagement in soccer in general.
26.7 million people tuning into watch the 2015 FIFA Women World on FOX certainly raises more than a few eyebrows (BTW – we invite you to take a re-read of our top ten marketing takeaways from that amazing event). Data released by the likes of Nielsen that show healthy female interest in numerous soccer leagues adds further fuel to the fire. As does the appearance of a 13-year-old Olivia Moultrie in a Nike ad campaign and the sports iconic status of legends lie Mia Hamm and current stars Alex Morgan and Megan Rapino.
To help brand marketers fully realize the power of soccer as passion point to embrace the female audience, in the Fall of 2019 we will release the GESM Women and Soccer Report.
Our report will address multiple aspects of female interest, involvement, and influence within soccer in the U.S. We will explore the similarities and differences to male fans across various topics and address questions such as:
- What leagues hold the greatest appeal to women?
- What are motivations behind fandom?
- What is the impact of female athletes as role models?
- What media consumption habits and trends are present?
- What’s the relationship between participation and fandom?
- What is the impact of various types of soccer sponsorship on women?
- What do male fans think about female athletes and competitions?
In the meantime, if you are looking to better understand how to harness the power of the soccer to engage the female audience, then we’d love to chat…