Women’s World Cup promotions
This year is World Cup year. However, I’m aware that there are World Cups in many sports so, to clarify, it’s a football World Cup year and, should further clarity be necessary, it’s a football Women’s World Cup year.
The tournament is taking place in Australia and New Zealand. It kicks off on 20 July and the final whistle blows on 20 August. In total, 32 teams are taking part, including both hosts and England. That will be in sharp contrast to the first Women’s World Cup, in China in 1991, which had only 12 participating teams.
Over the years the competition has been dominated by the USA, who have won it four times, been runners-up once and come third on the other three occasions. In other words, they have never finished out of the top three. But will they win this, the ninth version of the competition? You certainly can’t rule them out, but England will be strong contenders, Germany and Sweden are on form, and as an outside bet I would keep an eye on Australia, who have home advantage and are captained by Chelsea’s Sam Kerr, currently one of the best players in the world.
As I’ve said before, Women’s World Cups don’t attract the same promotions spend that Men’s World Cups do, but there’s absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t (four years ago I wrote a piece for the Drum about exactly this). Actually, given the Lionesses’ 2022 victory in the Euros, when they beat Germany 2-1, and the increasing popularity of women’s football at all levels, I am hopeful that come the summer we will see more promotions prompted by the Women’s World Cup.
Play by FIFA’s rules
So let’s look at what you can do – and, to be honest, at first glance you can’t do much. FIFA has an extensive set of guidelines covering its intellectual property and other commercial rights. This explains that due to the enormous cost of staging such a large event, FIFA wouldn’t be able to organise it without the significant financial support of sponsors, media rights licensees and other licensees. These stakeholders all make vital financial contributions to ensure that the event is sufficiently funded. In other words, they have paid to play.
The tournament has an official emblem, an official slogan, various official logos, an official trophy and even an official typeface. However, the document states, ‘FIFA asks that non-affiliated entities/individuals respect FIFA’s rights and conduct their activities without commercially associating with the tournament.’ In other words, if you haven’t paid to play, you can’t use any of the tournament assets, and FIFA will take legal action if it has to.
On the ball
OK, similar to the way in which the royal family seeks to protect its image through rules banning official endorsement claims, FIFA is adamant that you mustn’t create an ‘unauthorised commercial association’. But don’t get downhearted. They’re not killjoys at FIFA and they are keen to emphasise, ‘There are legitimate ways to celebrate the tournament without using the official intellectual property or creating an unauthorised commercial association with the event.’
This means you need to think out of the box. You could, for instance, centre your campaign around the fans watching from their sofas or in front of a big screen. There is no copyright on celebrations and parties, and you could make full use of flags and team colours. There is nothing stopping you using generic football images or images related to the host and participating countries either.
You also have a whole dictionary of football language at your disposal and this might be the time to roll out the clichés (I’ve been purposefully restrained, but there’s certainly no shortage of them). Think about the prizes you offer in the same way. It’s all about generic rather than specific content and making implicit rather than explicit connections.
Have fun putting together your Women’s World Cup promotions, but make sure FIFA doesn’t show you the red card. In fact, FIFA recommends you get independent advice to make sure your promotion is legitimate and doesn’t contravene its rules, and this is precisely the type of advice Prizeology can provide. Just give us a call on 020 7856 0402 or drop us an email.
Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist and an industy expert in promotional compliance.