With estimated global revenue in the hundreds of billions of dollars, the sports industry is showing no signs of stagnation. But in a world traditionally focused on its male fans and customers, an increasing female presence is not just shaking up the status quo–it’s turning it on its axis. From the rising popularity of girls’ sports to more airtime for female sports and an increasingly health conscious population, no business in their right mind would ignore their female demographic. Or, would they? Here’s a current look at women, video, and the future of the $620 billion sports industry. (Hint: it rhymes with “swimmin.”)
According to a study recently undertaken by global management consulting firm, A.T. Kearney, the global sports industry is worth an estimated $480-$620 billion. Yes, dear reader; you read that right. But just in case you think you didn’t, allow me to spell it out for you (in italics). That was six hundred and twenty billion US dollars. (Or, a cool $850 billion CAD at the current conversion rate.) As you can probably imagine, this amount of money covers more than just sports bras. We’re talking infrastructure construction, sporting goods and products, as well as live sports events. And more women than ever before are participating in each of these arenas.
In an independent analysis commissioned by Kearney from Lagardère Unlimited, findings were not of the garden but the unicorn variety. In fact, their research showed that the global sports industry is growing much faster than national gross domestic product rates around the world. And that is something we can truly say does not happen every day.
Described as “the commercialization of what were once cherished pastimes,” in a 2016 Inc. article, columnist Mandy Antoniacci notes that there is no denying the inevitable: women, both as athletes and fans, are changing the game (pun intended) in extraordinary ways. As a result, if the sports industry values its pocketbook–and this writer has a hunch they do–that means they can no longer overlook what women and girls mean to their bottom line. Period.
Among some of the video evidence to support this paradigm shift, Inc. cited the NFL’s recent ‘Football is Family’ campaign, which features exclusively women and girls. Other ads deviating from their historically macho commercial line-up include a TV commercial featuring newlyweds whose in-laws are fans of opposing teams. As video is such a powerful way to communicate not just who you are as a business but who your audience is, it stands to reason that if women see themselves represented accurately by a sports industry company they will be more likely to buy the product and remain a loyal customer. Not only that, if these same women also have children, you can bet that this brand loyalty will extend to their entire family as well.
A 2014 article by The Washington Post was one of the first we saw floating around on the subject at the time. In it, Matt Powell, an analyst working with sports industry researcher SportsOneSource, had some stern words. Among them, Powell said that historically “One guiding strategy for apparel for women and girls remains what is known as the ‘shrink it and pink it’ approach, in which the only options for women brought to market are smaller, more colourful versions of men’s clothes.” Even still, all too often when these products are brought to the shelves, they’re accompanied by images that simply do not reflect the average active woman–whether she’s a non-professional, semi-pro, or fully-fledged professional female athlete.
A shining example of a brand that caught on and is representing women’s interests in their commercials is Newcastle beer. Despite not being in the sports industry themselves, Newcastle used the marketing hype surrounding last year’s Super Bowl to kick off a series of hilarious commercials. Poking fun at the female stereotypes big brands have traditionally relied upon in their advertising during the event, not only did Newcastle save themselves from writing a big advertising day paycheque, the main ad became highly regarded as one of the best commercials of the year.
The most famous of the commercial series stars Anna Kendrick of Pitch Perfect fame talking about how she almost did a big Super Bowl commercial. They also created an animated spot titled “The Mega Huge Ad Newcastle Could’ve Made, which begins with a narrator who laments… “We would have opened on a desert island where a castaway washes ashore…He spots of bottle of Newcastle brown ale, pops it open, and, boom! Like, two hundred women in bikinis would have appeared.” Not only did it catch our attention and make us laugh; it was a way for Newcastle to tell women that they value them as customers.
With stakes so high, any sports or sports product related brand would do well to follow in the footsteps of these examples. And while you’re at it, take note of the shape and size of the shoe too: ‘cause if we’re going to bend it like Beckham, we’re going to need the right pair of kicks to do it in.
TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT
If you’re in the sports industry and interested in reaching out to your female audience with a successful video, feel free to contact us. We are a diverse group of creatives who love to meet new people.