2015: Octagon review on women in sport


2014 was the year when women’s sport really came to the fore in the UK: England won the Women’s Rugby World Cup, women’s cricket and rugby turned professional for the first time and, where three years ago there were none, this time four women were on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist. 2015 has gone on to build on this foundation; with the recent Independent’s 50 most influential women in sport just the icing on the cake.

January saw the launch of Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign which aims to break down barriers that prevent girls from taking part in grassroots sport. The advertising went viral and has amassed over 8.6 million YouTube views to date. The campaign has received widespread praise which was topped off by winning the ‘Glass Lion: Lion for Change’ at Cannes in the inaugural gender inequality category. Their success shone a light on female grassroots participation and will hopefully show tangible results.

The summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament in Canada continued to celebrate women’s sport. The BBC’s coverage of England’s opening defeat against France netted more than 2 million viewers; nearly double the highest audience for the women’s European Championship in 2013.

This appetite continued throughout the tournament, particularly with the continuing successes of the England team their third place play-off against Germany averaging 1.44 million viewers. The achievement of the team was unsurprisingly a catalyst for viewers tuning in.

A recent Octagon Sports Panel survey found that 2 in 5 of those who followed the tournament did so due to the team’s results. The momentous support for the sport has continued beyond the tournament itself the recent Women’s FA Cup final smashed the attendance record with 30,000 spectators.

It’s not only the viewing figures that tell a compelling story. England’s win in the match against Germany has made them the country’s most successful senior team since the men’s 1966 World Cup triumph. Successes on the field equates to increased commercial activity with more and more brands looking to get involved with women’s sport.

Over the course of the last few months there has been significant momentum, with sponsorships including SSE and the Women’s FA Cup, Bang & Olufsen and the Ashes and Vitality and England Netball. As well as an increase in the number of deals, it is noteworthy that many of them have been record breaking for the governing bodies, and highlight the value delivered through sponsorship.

Speaking at a recent advertising conference, the Football Association’s CEO Martin Glenn said,

“My advice to [brands and agencies] is to get on the curve now because it is only going to get bigger. Get onto that ride early on.”

Although he was focusing on the growth of football in particular, his advice is something which can be broadened out to women’s sport in general which shows no signs of abating.

56% of Octagon’s Sports Panel claim to be open to watching more women’s sport in the future demonstrating that the opportunity for brands to connect with new audiences through Women’s Sport is ever-increasing.

This article was written by MINAL MODHA, Senior Research Executive and GlobalSportsJobs partner Octagon UK. Check out Octagon’s blog, the 8Ball, for all their latest news and views from the world of Sports Business’ http://octagon8ball.tumblr.com/.

About Octagon: Octagon believes that passion is the world’s most contagious idea. When ignited in one of us, it can spread to all of us. And when it really spreads, we think it has the power to change the world. We’re not are a marketing agency. We’re a passion company. With a single goal: to create experiences that make hearts race. Our company is part of the Interpublic Group (IPG) and is made up of specialists across sport, entertainment, and culture. With more than 1,000 people across the world, we deliver strategy, experiences, and content for clients like The North Face, MasterCard, AIG, Stella Artois, and UEFA. Our deep understanding of the psychology of fan behavior ensures our work born from insight. And our commitment to exceptional delivery and measurable return on investment has resulted in client partnership that have lasted decades. Visit http://www.octagon.com or follow us @OctagonUK for learn more.

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