Home Ethics Gender Issues The Evolution of Marketing To Female Sports Fans

The Evolution of Marketing To Female Sports Fans


“Shrink it and pink it” as a marketing strategy is all but dead, thank you very much.

In its place we’re finally getting marketing campaigns around sports that recognize women watch and play sports for many of the same reasons as men.

Take, for example, Under Armour’s campaign with Misty Copeland, the first black principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre. If you haven’t seen any of the “I Will What I Want” campaign.

Characteristics like hard work and the underdog mentality haven’t been the way marketers have portrayed women traditionally, let alone in sports advertising. Those are characteristics that make both men and women successful. Meaning brands can find ways to appeal to both men and women in the same campaigns – it doesn’t have to be an either-or situation.

Obviously gender-specific products require different treatment, but UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School marketing professor Claudia Kubowicz Malhotra says it is possible to create high-level campaigns that appeal to both genders.

“One that’s aspirational and inspirational about living life to the fullest, reaching your fullest potential or staying healthy, for instance,” said Malhotra.

The infographic from MBA@UNC, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s online MBA program, below has some great examples of sponsors in professional sports who have created campaigns that appeal to women. One such example is Gatorade’s “Win from Within”, which used a series of flashbacks from Serena Williams’ career.

As advertisers increase their focus on female fans of predominantly male sports, Malhotra says the movement will spill over into female sports as well.

“Some sports are better suited than others,” said Malhotra. “Tennis is a great example. Men watch female tennis and advertisers could capitalize on this. It would be a novel approach.”

As a young, female athlete, you want to see yourself in these success stories. You want a role model. Having someone to look up to and a figure to align your goals with is really inspiring and powerful.

“Female athletes are already successful endorsers,” said Malhotra. “Staying in the tennis category, you have Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and many others who have been successfully leveraged by brands to promote products.

“These women are authentic – they have reached the peak of their sport. They garner a lot of respect. They are widely recognizable – they have global presence.”

Malhotra warns, however, brands have to engage female athletes in ways that ensure the credibility of the athlete as well as the brand.

Under Armour’s campaign with Misty Copeland is an excellent example. Since the ad ran last July, it’s racked up over 10 million views on YouTube. Not coincidentally, Under Armour’s women’s business has grown 60 percent year-over-year to $600 million.

Kristi A. Dosh, Esq. is a sports business analyst, business coach and author of “Saturday Millionaires: How Winning Football Builds Winning Colleges.” Follow on Twitter: @SportsBizMiss.

Republish with permission Forbes, original article


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