The power of role models in women’s sports with the assistance of brands


Having written about sponsorship in women’s sport, I though it would be a good addition to the discussion the following topic. WHY? If you step back anyone can realise that women’s sport offers talented role models which are perfect fit for brands.

It is known that, sport audiences have started to move away from the traditional gender stereotypes of male and female sports and although it still exists, brands have realised that sponsorhip opportunities are vast. As GB’s CEO Mr. Sweeney mentioned that Rio 2016 was trully genderless as the most iconic athletes was Usain Bolt and Simone Biles. He also added to the conversation that female participants in Rio were 45%. Nielsen statistics showed that Team GB supporters were 54% female, while 58% of Facebook followers are women between 25 and 44.

So that was the reason behind the decision of beauty brand Avan to sign with Liverpool Ladies FC, a shirt sponsor in April 2017. In addition, it was the first female-focused brand to become sponsor in a professional women’s team. In past they had the same sponosr as the men’s team. According to some researches, this move can be explained becuase women’s football considered to be the 2nd UK’s largest participant sport in 2018.

Due to the lack of confidence to pursue their dreams, one of Avon’s campaigh was “I Can Be” which was debating and challenging gender stereotypes. As Ms Rendu argued in an interview, 45% of British believe that women’s football deserves more attention. She added that it is the right time for sponsors to make impact and think differntly.

So how brand should choose the role models?

Definitely there are no guidelines to what is correct or not. What is certain is that it needs to fit in the brands core values and also represent them. As the opportunities are vast, brands need to challenge themselves so as to realise what is best for them and how they will engage with the customers and the fans.

An example is the case of Karen Millen which decided to do something innovative. In September 2017, the label worked with Ruqsana Begum on the #WomenWhoCan project. Why she was chosen? She is a Muay Thai champion and the only female Muslim which is a national champion. The purpose of the project was to build a conversation around survivabilyt of women in sport. The head of global marketing explained that although she was a fan of Karen Millen creating a connection with the brand, the most important element was the focus on her story and not the selling products. It was added that the focus on the story and not on the fashion was what made the campaign successful and seperated from all others.

Concluding, it seems that brands realise the importance and the massive impact they could have when they sponsor female athletes. The point is that they need to figure if they fit in their core values and how they will engage with the fans and the customers.

You can read more at our author’s blog here.