It’s official: people love watching soccer.  

No matter where in the world, soccer is the most popular sport to watch globally.

Disregarding the fact that 85% of internet users watch at least one sport online or on TV regularly, the sports industry has seen its share of controversy surrounding gender equality.  

Many claim the sports industry, and soccer in particular, has failed to acknowledge (or act on) its lack of inclusivity towards female sports players. But perceptions are shifting.

Viewers in record numbers are fronting up to watch elite women’s sports leagues, but the commercialization of women’s sports hasn’t been fully realized.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC), one of the most hotly anticipated events in women’s sports, kicks off on June 7 in France. Because of the game’s significance, Lucozade Sport set out to inspire as much support as possible for the England team.

They released a new version of the iconic football song ‘Three Lions’, giving the song a new slant and calling it ‘Three Lionesses’.  

Created by Grey London and directed by Academy Film’s Jack Driscoll, the reworked song and film clip recounts the stories of actual players in the Lionesses team.

Source: YouTube.

Here’s why we chose Lucozade Sport’s ‘Three Lionesses’ campaign as our May campaign of the month.

The Insight

More than 750 million television viewers tuned in to watch the previous FIFA Women’s World Cup held in Canada, making 2015 a breakthrough year for women’s football. This year, the bar has already been set – the competition is expected to lure one billion viewers throughout its duration.

The gender breakdown for WWC viewers is a fairly even split between men (53%) and women (47%) but there’s still plenty of progress to be made. In terms of investment and coverage, female sports remains notably behind male sports.  

83% of the audience for the Women’s World Cup are still pushing for greater strides towards equality.

In the age of social media, brands and organizations are being held accountable in ways not possible before. Consumers have become far more likely to call out inequality, and sports is no exception.

With greater demands for more women’s sport on TV, socially- conscious brands are also taking it upon themselves to make a positive impact – be it through advertising or sponsorship.

Known for its long-standing partnership with the English men’s soccer team, Lucozade is now turning its attention towards the women’s team. Claire Keaveny, Head of Marketing at Lucozade, says the brand wanted to show equal support for the women’s team and help fuel what has become a “culturally relevant moment”:

“I want the general public to watch our advertising, see what we’re doing and be inspired to turn on their TVs when the Lionesses are playing”.

The message

The increasing rise in popularity of women’s sports is one of the most interesting trends shaping the current sports landscape.

For Lucozade Sport, this year’s WWC represented a crucial opportunity to bring the competition to a wider audience, by sharing a unanimous story about female footballers overcoming prejudices in their careers to reach the international stage.

According to Grey’s creative directors, Rob Greaves and Sam Daly, Lucozade was clear about its intent from the beginning.

The brief was simple, yet packed with meaning: to galvanize the nation behind the WWC Lionesses team.

A positive and empowering video clip was created to celebrate the achievements and recognize the challenges faced by Lioness players’ to get to where they are now.

Women’s football especially has faced its own host of struggles for years, so it was important that the new song lyrics didn’t brush over this.

Whilst the gender pay gap in sports has been a highly contentious, highly publicized issue, the message was as much about challenging stereotypes and outdated sporting ideals.

And the clip’s underlying purpose?

To help turn female footballers into household names, just like their male counterparts.

It was a daunting undertaking to re-write the words of a song so loved by its fans, but the real power comes from the lyrics that have purposefully stayed the same.

For example, ‘Years of hurt, never stopped us dreaming’ is a particularly powerful line when applied to the struggles that the Lionesses have faced, serving as a testament to the character and strength of the team’s competitors.

Why it Worked

Women’s professional sports leagues have historically trailed behind men’s in terms of popularity, but many brands, including Lucozade Sport, are publicly rallying to change this.  

Lucozade Sport wanted to get people talking. It recognized the cultural power of reinventing a song so synonymous with soccer, believing it was something that could really strike a chord among England’s fans.

Tweet by tweet, the lyrics were revealed from a number of accounts – including England internationals Toni Duggan, Nikita Parris, Jordan Nobbs and Steph Houghton; and former England players Peter Crouch and John Barnes.

Acting as a force for good meant giving the Lionesses team the platform and exposure they deserved. As Clare Keaveny, Head of Marketing, Lucozade Sport puts it:

“If the general public know who they are, and know their stories, they’re going to tune in which will raise the profile of the game.”

Elite sports players, preparing to represent the nation, the Lionesses make the perfect ambassadors to get people engaged with the WWC.

It’s a step in the right direction to see women in sports being celebrated loud and clear.

Click to access our Consumer Insights Guide

Never miss a post

By subscribing you confirm you’re happy for us to send you our latest articles.

You’ve read our blog, now see our platform

Every business has questions about its audiences, GWI has answers. Powered by consistent, global research, our platform is an on-demand window into their world.