It goes without saying that although this has been a momentous time for women’s sports, the fans both old and new have played a key role in bringing in the positive headlines, which has created a culture and unique spirit surrounding the tournament. The headlines, the atmosphere and the record-breaking turnout have all nodded to the fact that something has clicked and the fans have helped the world rethink what stepping up and out looks like in 2023. So, as marketers witnessing the shift in this emerging audience, what can we learn here? Where could this take us? How can brands support in taking it to the next level?
The openness and inclusive spirit of the fandom today have allowed a sense of togetherness on a scale that, from a cultural perspective, has been hard to achieve in recent history post-pandemic. The real fans know from the early days that after having been overlooked and ignored for many years, and enduring the many challenges that brings, fans have been instrumental in breathing life into the game and establishing a strong sense of precedence. To get a sense of this momentous shift, we spoke to some experts as part of the Open Revolt in partnership with KIND report and this surfaced certain shared values, such as having mutual respect, equality, active kindness and advocacy, have been notable. This, in turn, has broadened the fan base and has become a vehicle to express the new fans’ newfound passion for the game. Brands have also taken this moment as an opportunity to express their vote of support, for example, Orange’s 2 min ad campaign with an unexpected twist in the second half, which challenges bias head on.
To the fans and beyond, this may have felt like a revolutionary moment for the sport this summer, but for now, as the dust has settled, it becomes apparent to remember that celebrating the progress has been an incredible effort so far, but we are still at the beginning of the journey and there is work yet to be done.
This leads us to question… how can we further the fandom’s inclusive and open culture so that any girl feels like they could become a footballer if desired? This is where brands could proactively support and be a part of what the future could look like.
Here are some initial thoughts to start with…
What can brands do to continue the momentum and show up authentically in years to come?
What stories/narratives are crucial to document for this moment in women’s football?
When honouring the fandom’s culture and spirit, what is the relationship dynamic between brands and fans?
Are there any moments that, as brands, we could bring in the fan’s voice to help inform decision-making?
Overall, the Women’s Football Fandom has acted like an open invite to what the future of the sport could look like. It’s been a game of its own kind, a spectacle of sorts to see acts of kindness being spoken about in the media. It’s a salient time, with fans, players and brands representing so much more together, and it’s tempting to try and predict where it could go, but in true open spirit, this future is yet to be written.