USWNT: FIFA Won’t Pay but Brands Should

USWNT1

The 5-2 win for the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) over Japan in last months FIFA World Cup make them the first women’s team to win three World Cup titles and mark’s yet another great achievement for the growth of women’s soccer. Despite a fifty percent pay raise from the last World Cup, the women’s payout for the 2015 World Cup was a mere $15 million, compared to the men’s $576 million payout in last years World Cup (Shabad, 2015). According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, this year’s women’s World Cup final between the USA and Japan had record high ratings averaging 25.4 million viewers on FOX (Pilon, 2015). This proved to be the highest American viewed soccer game ever and also had higher TV ratings than any single NBA finals game or NHL Stanley Cup match during the same period (Chappell, 2015; Collett, 2015). This shows a clear potential for the American women to generate revenue and earn a higher pay than the $2 million received for winning the World Cup. It is clear that FIFA leadership is behind modern day culture. Actions such as FIFA President Sepp Blatter having the Women’s World Cup played on turf rather than grass to save money, and voicing opinions that women should play in “tighter shorts and skimpier outfits” is disrespectful and out of touch with modern day society standards in the U.S. For good reason much of this has lead to the highly publicized controversy of the FIFA pay gap between the men and women’s World Cup. But I’m not here to discuss how change is needed, I think we’re all in agreements about that and the fact of the matter is until there is new leadership FIFA will continue its ways. However what can change is the endorsements deal that the American women can receive right here in our home country.

Its clear that these girls can ball, Carli Lloyd’s hat trick and nailing a 50-yard goal in the final proves that, Visa and Nike have recognized this and recently inked deals with the star player. Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach have also signed deals with brands such as Coca-Cola and Nationwide but that still leaves 20+ other women to be recognized as well. Advertisers love to associate their products with winners and those who have the spotlight on them within the market place; right now that is women’s soccer specifically the USWNT. There’s never been a better time for women’s soccer to capitalize on endorsement deals given their recent success and the fact that the Summer Olympics are less than a year away. Social engagement for the top women’s players is also high across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, combined followers on each platform are: Alex Morgan 4,979,329, Hope Solo 2,813,086, Abby Wambach 1,216,134, Carli Lloyd 878,917, and Megan Rapinoe 877,122.

So how do these women sustain a brand value? Some would argue that many of these women don’t have a compelling story to tell. Highly doubt it, but if so for brands I would challenge them to create a compelling story. There is a clear economic opportunity and one could even argue a corporate social responsibility opportunity to do what FIFA hasn’t and get these women paid. A win-win for both sides. So rather than question how does the women team use this momentum to sustain branding efforts as a brand manager I would ask my self how do I capitalize on the opportunity. It will be interesting what players make out with endorsements over the next year, if FIFA wont pay them I think there is a great opportunity for U.S. brands to.

References

Chappell, B. (2015, July 6). U.S. Women Shatter TV Ratings Record For Soccer With World Cup Win. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/06/420514899/what-people-are-saying-about-the-u-s-women-s-world-cup-win

Favaritio, J. (2015, July 3) Women’s World Cup Success; What’s Next? Retrieved from http://joefavorito.com/2015/07/07/womens-world-cup-success-whats-next/

Favaritio, J. (2015, July 11). Busy Summer For Soccer Biz? Kickin It With Charlie Stillitano…Retrieved from http://joefavorito.com/2015/07/11/busy-summer-for-soccer-biz-kickin-it-with-charlie-stillitano/

Shabad, R. (2015, July 6). Lawmaker: US women paid millions less than men for World Cup. Retrieved from http://thehill.com/policy/finance/246959-lawmaker-womens-world-cup-winners-paid-four-times-less-than-men

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to USWNT: FIFA Won’t Pay but Brands Should

  1. Caliah says:

    Hey Gustavo!

    You’ve got a lot of well organized information here, I really enjoyed reading your post.
    I also, agree with your positioning, if FIFA isn’t willing to appropriately compensate these players (which they have maintained their unwillingness in recent statements) then I think it’s absolutely essential for US brands to fill in the gap. If this trend were catch on, it could be a “game changer” for under paid female soccer players around the world. Perhaps other organizations would began to sponsor women from their home countries and eventually become the industry standard…then hopefully at that point, FIFA would have some pressure to get on board as well.

    Great post!

  2. Dawn says:

    Gustavo,

    Very moving and insightful post. I actually just posted about brand storytelling, so it amuses me that you bring up storytelling and how it may improve the USWNT brand. It’s unfortunate, but in many ways consumers are still not interested in women athletes, unless you become an icon like Serena Williams or Danica Patrick. There is an interest in women sports and an interest in seeing women (especially USA) kick some butt, but to learn more about their background and how they got to be where they are today, does not appear to be a priority.

    I would personally love it if USWNT could team up with Dove or Always, and provide motivational stories to women about beauty and determination. I would also like to see USWNT work more with traditional athletic brands like Nike, Adidas, New Balance and Under Armour to share their story. If possible, maybe they could work with an unexpected brand to share their stories like Apple, Subway, Starbucks or Disney… these are brands people know, but may not think women athletes would work through to establish brand awareness. By teaming up with well-known brands, I think USWNT will be able to start establishing their own brand and then they eventually be able to compete with male athletes when it comes profits/promotions.

    Thanks,
    Dawn Stankus

  3. Lauren says:

    Gustavo,

    Absolutely this is a travesty. These women are fantastic athletes with an incredible story and team harmony. They have not only smashed their competition in the World Cup but in the Olympics as well. I was really happy to see so many people come out this year and cheer them on as I feel the last World Cup they were in I barely heard any enthusiasm. Men’s sports have traditionally been the main money maker but it is definitely time for the women to get their fair share. No doubt had this been our men’s team last year that there would been an amazing fan fare and so much more money rolling in to support them. I remember people talking about how the U.S. men’s team always does so poorly in the World Cup and my reply would be “Have you seen our women’s team??! They’re amazing!”
    I’m hoping though that after this year’s achievement and support for these wonderful athletes that brands like Gatorade, Under Armour and Nike take notice. The Always campaign #LikeaGirl would be perfect for this team. Not only are these ladies tough but they push the boundaries of gender stereotypes and expectations. These women are proud of who they are and encourage everyone to do the same regardless of looks or sexuality. I’m really excited to see how this impacts our younger generation of girls as they grow into teenagers and are figuring out who they are.