Twelve months ago, the country was infected with World Cup fever; alarms were set to the tune of Three Lions, red & white face paint was an office obligation and waistcoat sales flew through the roof. Now, in 2019, the nation is rising to its feet once more as England’s Lionesses start their campaign in the 8th edition of the Women’s World Cup in France.
Winning all their group games saw the Lionesses storm through to the round of 16 as group winners, smashing TV viewing records in the process; a whopping 6.1 million viewers tuned in to see England take on Scotland on June 9th . Impressively, this record was smashed once more just a week later with 6.87m individuals tuning in to the Lioness’ quarter-final fixture vs Cameroon; making this the most viewed women’s football game in the UK to date, and greater even than their semi-final vs Japan in the World Cup in 2015 with 2.43m viewers.
Of course, this figure is dwarfed by the gargantuan 26.5m individuals that tuned in to see England take on Croatia in last year’s Men’s World Cup semi-final. Compare the Lionesses viewership though to that of the Nations League Semi Final vs Netherlands (2.54m individuals), or England’s men’s latest Euro Qualifier (7.26m individuals) and it’s evident that there is a growing Lioness fanbase out there.
Until now, women’s football has received a lack of attention and funding in comparison to the men’s game. Whilst closing this gap in the near future represents a great challenge, the efforts being made by brands to facilitate this, along with free-to-air broadcasting from the BBC and the general success of the Lionesses, demonstrates that real steps are being taken to achieve equality.
Lioness sponsors Budweiser, Boots, Lucozade, Continental Tires, and Head & Shoulders, have all made significant marketing contributions to the cause, while World Cup partners Visa have committed to spending an equal amount on marketing for both the men’s and women’s tournaments. Coca-Cola, who are also World Cup partners, have further aided the cause by commissioning a weekly women’s football show on Channel 4.
Brands showing a progressive attitude and associating themselves with the Women’s World Cup appropriately stand to benefit from increased brand equity. However, although brand equity is a positive outcome, the real driving force should be a genuine desire from brands and stakeholders to drive tangible societal change for the better.
Den: Viewers of Eng v Japan 1 July 2015