By Ben Wagner, CMO VMLY&R South Africa
It’s been a big year for women’s sport in South Africa. Among the highlights: The Proteas igniting the nation in the ICC T20 Women’s World Cup, Kirsten Neuschäfer dominating the gruelling Golden Globe Race, and Gerda Steyn adding yet another ultramarathon record to her Wikipedia entry. And the excitement continues… This month Cape Town hosts the Netball World Cup and Banyana Banyana head to Australia and New Zealand for the FIFA World Cup. And yet, conversations around pay inequalities and lack of funding continue to abound.
What brands need to know: women’s sport is an exciting space with room for massive ROI. We recently hosted a webinar with Ashley Kotzin, CEO of sports management specialist Forwadzone and Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis. Here are some of the insights we learnt.
There’s a whole untapped fan market out there.
Women's sport provides an opportunity to connect with different types of fans: The culture is far less beer-and-bros and a lot more family orientated. You could see this in action at the ICC Women’s World Cup – there weren’t many beer snakes to be seen, but there were plenty of families camped out in the stands and several little girls queuing up for autographs. Similar scenes play out at big women’s football fixtures internationally. This opens up opportunities for brands with strong family values or that would not usually associate themselves with sport.
Think beyond the national teams.
Top level sport is an obvious choice for brands and where a lot of brands want to play. But it’s saturated and expensive. And there's a lot more to the sporting ecosystem. Grassroots, schools and club/university level all offer opportunities to own a space and build affinity – and these are still largely untapped in the women’s market. Case in point: Raise your hand if you played Baker's Mini Cricket a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
It's not just about names on shirts.
There are only so many logos you can fit onto a player – just ask every Formula 1 driver. Instead of dropping an obscene amount of money just to compete with every other brand that wanted to get their spot on the jersey, look at other areas. A strong sporting ecosystem needs good facilities, good coaching development, equipment and well-organised competitions. These are all gaps waiting to be taken.
Weigh up rights vs leverage.
A big mistake brands new to sports sponsorship often make: falling into the trap of spending their whole budget on rights and having no money left over for leverage. With women’s sport (sadly) not yet as hotly contested as men’s sport, there is scope for brands who get in early to get this balance right from the start.
Get more social media exposure.
Women athletes are more active on social media. Stats show they're engaging in 19.6% more social activities for their sponsorship deals than men (excluding football because, well, footballers). And as the global Zeitgeist around women’s sport gains momentum, their followings are growing too. This is a great opportunity for brands to engage authentically with their audience.
ISSUED BY VMLY&R
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VMLY&R is a global brand and customer experience agency that harnesses creativity, technology, and culture to create connected brands. Made up of more than 11,000 employees worldwide, the agency has principal offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kansas City, New York, Detroit, London, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. VMLY&R works with client partners including Absa, BAT, Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Dell, Ford, Nando’s, New Balance, Pfizer, Vodacom and Wendy's. For more information, visit www.vmlyr.com. VMLY&R is a WPP company (NYSE: WPP).
Known as a dominant global sports management specialist, Forwardzone has led an esteemed presence in the industry for more than two decades with a core focus in strategic consulting, experiential activations and talent management.
Grounded in the notion of leading the difference in sport and entertainment through a highly personalised, authentic and long-term relationship with clients, Forwardzone strives to support brands in achieving their desired objectives through the utilisation of strategic advisory and problem-solving solutions which hone on the power of sport.
Forwardzone Social Media Handles & Website: Website: www.forwardzone.com Instagram: @forwardzonegroup Facebook: @Forwardzone
LinkedIn: Forwardzone [https://www.linkedin.com/company/394135/admin/] Twitter: @forwardzone