Today officially marks 100 days out from the start of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, which will cap off a scintillating summer of soccer featuring the Copa America Centenario and Euro 2016. The U.S. Men’s National team will feature in Copa America, but the U-23 team did not qualify for the Olympic games, losing out to Colombia in a playoff match. The U.S. Women’s National Team will prominently feature in the Olympics, looking to win their fourth straight gold medal.
Following the breakout success on television and in social media of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, all eyes for Women’s soccer are squarely set on Rio. While the Men’s tournament features primarily U-23 “youth” players (we use that term loosely as many of them are full-blown professionals with years of experience) along with a few “senior” players, the Women’s tournament is the “normal” national team squads. While the USWNT won’t be facing Japan in a rematch of the 2015 World Cup Final, the prospect of facing Brazil in a potential final on their home soil is tantalizing.
As much negative publicity as the Olympic host process receives – and there’s plenty of it from the bidding through the lead-up to the Games and what happens once the television cameras and crowds leave – the fact is that the Olympics are still a major draw for TV ratings in the US and across the globe, especially the Summer Games.
Due to that draw, brands are lining up to partner with teams, athletes, and the Olympics themselves. The members of the U.S. Women’s National (and the team as a whole) are some of the most marketable athletes of the entire games and will be heavily featured in TV, print, digital, and in-store activations starting now and going all throughout the summer. Maybe they’ll even snag a repeat as Sports Illustrated cover models.
An AdWeek article that came out this week reiterates just how strong of a draw the USWNT and its athletes are for brand marketers. From Alex Morgan – who brings in roughly $3 million dollars annually from brands including the likes of Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Nationwide – to last year’s hat trick hero in Carli Lloyd, to other team members including Kelley O’Hara, Megan Rapinoe, Julie Johnston, and Becky Sauerbrunn, brands are lining up to partner with U.S. Women’s Soccer players.
We’ll have much more on the U.S. Women’s National Team and the Olympics throughout the summer, but for now we wanted to share some standout examples of branded work that feature the USWNT.
As we mentioned above, Alex Morgan is the face of many brands and one of the most integrated we’ve seen is #PassTheLove from Mondelez International (makers of Ritz, Chips Ahoy, and Trident) as the Official Snacks of U.S. Soccer. Their shopper marketing activation is particularly strong, with the first holographic ad placement in grocery stores across the country. Messages shared by fans across social media with the #PassTheLove hashtag were shown on a digital wall for support of the USWNT ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The “breakout star” of the 2015 Women’s World Cup thanks to her 13 minute hat trick in the final versus Japan, including that memorable chip from midfield, Carli Lloyd went from relative unknown to someone who had brands knocking on her door.
Timing can be everything when it comes to selecting someone to be the face of your brand. A week before the final, Lloyd signed an endorsement deal with Visa. Following the final, multiple brands representing various industries, including automotive and a watch company, were knocking on her door. Being able to get a foot in the door prior to (or just after) “blowing up” can be beneficial to both brand and athlete, as it allows them to quickly capitalize on the initial momentum, while being able to plan a longer-term strategy.
Not a household name prior to scoring her first international goal during the World Cup semifinal against Germany, Kelley O’Hara has been able to secure multiple brand endorsements from the likes of Built With Chocolate Milk and Under Armour. With the former, she joins NBA star Kevin Love and multiple triathletes to showcase the recovery benefits of using chocolate milk following strenuous workouts. Her Built With Chocolate Milk works extends beyond :30 television spots and print ads, to include almost continuous and authentic messages on social media that are both playful and educational.
U.S. Women’s National Team
Nike undoubtedly creates some of the best soccer commercials (and overall commercials) around. As one of the most prominent official U.S. Soccer sponsors, this spot ahead of last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup showcases the hard behind-the-scenes work that goes into being an elite athlete. It’s yet another fantastic spot from Nike.
Editor’s Note: This is the next in our “Subbed On” series featuring the work of outside writers. We’re excited to continue to feature more of these pieces throughout the coming months for additional perspective in the world of soccer marketing.