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Women's Euro 2022

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The commercial strategy of Women's Euro 2022 is poised to usher in a groundbreaking evolution in women's football

On July 6, 2022, the opening match of Women's Euro 2022 was played between host nation England and Austria at Old Trafford. It marked the first record-breaking moment in women's football with the highest attendance, a staggering 68,871 supporters. Women's football has witnessed significant growth in recent years, and this tournament is expected to serve as a milestone in terms of engagement and commercial activity. What records do they anticipate breaking with their commercial strategy?

Women's Euro 2022 and the Red Flames

The 13th edition of the European Women's Football Championship features 16 participating nations. Organized by UEFA, the tournament is being held across 10 different venues in England this year. The ultimate goal for every team is to reach the final at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2022. Teams like the Netherlands are defending their European title against favorites such as host nation England, Sweden, and Germany. Notably, countries like France, Norway, Denmark, and Spain are also taking their chances as outsiders.

Belgium is eagerly anticipating the performance of the Red Flames in the group stage. They will face France, Italy, and Iceland. Their tournament kicks off on July 10 against Iceland at 6:00 PM, followed by a match against France on July 14 at 9:00 PM, and their final group stage game against Italy on July 18 at 9:00 PM.

Global Audience and Fan Engagement

The 31 matches will be broadcast live in nearly 200 countries. UEFA expects a "global audience" of a staggering 250 million people for this tournament, reflecting the immense ambitions in women's football. The new TV deal between the Women's Super League, the English national women's league, and the public broadcaster BBC and pay-TV network Sky Sports underscores the increasing attention.

Furthermore, UEFA announced an impressive figure: 500,000 out of 700,000 tickets have already been sold, more than doubling the 240,000 attendees at the last edition in 2017 in the Netherlands. The final at Wembley Stadium, with a capacity of approximately 90,000 spectators, is already sold out, indicating that the attendance record set during the opening match will not stand for long.

Notably, tickets were sold in 99 countries, including outside Europe in countries such as the United States, China, and Australia. According to UEFA, 43% of the tickets sold are intended for female fans, and 21% are for youths under 16. These demographics are of particular interest to sponsors, aren't they?

Sponsors and Commercial Activities

Globally, 13 brands have agreed to become official partners of Women's Euro 2022. Brands like Heineken, Visa, Adidas, Volkswagen, Hisense, and more have often used sports marketing to promote their brands. Interestingly, several new (lesser-known) brands are entering the world of sports and specifically women's football, such as Euronics and Grifols. UEFA decided to separate the sponsorship rights of women's football from men's football, likely due to lower entry costs.

At the local level, we see a similar trend with brands like Lego, LinkedIn, Pandora, Starling bank, and Gillette Venus. This suggests that these brands increasingly recognize the opportunities in the diversity of the target audience and align with the values and needs of the female demographic.

"They're really premium brands, which is what strikes me. If you look at men's sponsorships, you get a lot of second-hand car brands, a lot of crypto brands that we may never have heard of, but for the Women's Euros, they're all super-premium and mostly new to football." noted Jenny Mitton, business director & women's sport lead at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment.

I think the partners have faith in the direction women's sport is heading and the audience it attracts, which is large and diverse and likely younger than some sports can attract.

Jenny Mitton, business director & women's sport lead at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment

Official partners also have the opportunity to showcase their presence in fan villages and festivals in 9 different host cities. In collaboration with the FA, the English Football Association, special attention has been given to ensuring a consistent look and feel.

What Does the Future of Women's Football Look Like?

Women's Euro 2022 appears to be paving the way for future editions. UEFA has already received a record number of host candidate applications for the next Women's Euro in 2025, with countries now fully aware of the growing business opportunities behind major women's sports events.

UEFA now treats women's football on par with men's football, whereas in the past, it may have been more aligned with their youth competitions. This presents both challenges and opportunities in terms of available resources and budgets.

Nevertheless, there is still a long road ahead before there is equal interest and, consequently, investment in national leagues. The Women's Super League, the English national women's league, aims to have an average attendance of 6,000 spectators per game by 2024. With an exciting tournament on home soil, they hope to generate more interest and inspire young girls to take up football.

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