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Top PR campaigns for women’s sport

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9th March 2022

Top PR campaigns for women’s sport

To celebrate #WomenInSportWeek and #InternationalWomensDay MCE's resident Camogie and Netball player, Niamh Donnelly shares her thoughts on the top PR campaigns highlighting women's sport...

Between working in PR and spending 5 nights a week playing camogie for Ballycastle and Antrim, along with netball when I can squeeze it in, I am always fascinated when a new punchy PR campaign for women’s sport arises. I feel very passionately about the support that women’s sport deserves, and to be honest is usually lacking, so any campaign which brings light to this is a winner for me.

Over the past few years there have been many successful PR and marketing campaigns ran both internationally and locally. Women’s sports are traditionally underfunded, under supported and underappreciated compared to their male counterparts and so PR campaigns focussing on this cause can do wonders for the games and players themselves.

I’ve selected some of my favourite campaigns which put women’s sport in the spotlight and aim to increase awareness, participation, funding and visibility. Overall what these campaigns have in common is that they understand the bigger picture and are aimed and trying to fix the overall issue. They are not just publicising a brand who is donating money but rather, looking to solve the deeper-rooted problems that circulate women’s sports.

Over the next two years the campaign continued to tackle the issues with various topics including:

To wrap the campaign 2 years later, they released the 20x20 original documentary; The Long Road, which celebrates how far the campaign has developed women in sport and leaves a lasting message of what role Irish society should play next.

Whether this campaign was successful is not up for debate, the results speak for themselves on this one and are as follows:

  • 80% of the population are more of aware of women’s sport than before 20x20 launch in 2018
  • 61% are more likely to support women’s sport than in 2018
  • 75% of men say 20x20 changed their mindset positively towards women’s sport
  • 42% of women say they are participating in more sport and physical activity due to awareness of 20x20 than in 2018
  • 50% of the population and 60% of females say they would be more inclined to purchase from brands that support women’s sport

The campaign originated and was driven by Dublin based creative agency Along Came a Spider and was presented by the Federation of Irish Sport. The 20x20 movement was then backed by KPMG, AIG, Investec, Lidl and Three. All of Ireland’s National Governing Bodies, Local Sports Partnerships, third level institutions, schools and clubs around the county all pledged their support and signed a 20x20 Charter.


Aguila Beer and Leo Burnett – Colombia women’s football / half crest

In Colombia, Leo Burnett and Aguila beer supported women’s soccer by creating a huge PR stir. Their key message was if you only support the male players and not their female counterpart then you are only half a fan.

Supporter numbers were dropping massively for the women’s game in Colombia and something drastic needed to be done to salvage it. Burnett and Aguila made both the men’s and the women’s soccer team each only wear half of the team’s iconic badge on their shirts to show that both are as important as each other.


Lidl Ireland LGFA – Lady Ball & Level the playing field

Since they began sponsoring the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) back in 2016, Lidl have proved they mean business time and time again with various cleaver and creative campaigns.

Ladyball: To launch their sponsorship, they created a spoof advert for the ‘ladyball’ which as you can imagine, irritated a lot of people as it was everything that is wrong with the perception of women playing sport. Released as a ‘real campaign’ the Ladyball was ‘soft touch and fashion driven’ to suit a woman. It was a brave campaign and definitely got people talking about the partnership. The spoof campaign was later revealed to be masterminded by Lidl and was soon followed by their real supporting advert.

Level the playing field: Then in 2021 their new campaign called ‘Level the playing field’ was released. This campaign focuses on displaying the ongoing struggle that faces women in sport, the generations of players who battled for equality and is a rally cry to present and future players too. The TV, OOH and digital adverts cleverly illustrate the uphill battle that the LGFA players are up against with fewer resources, less coverage and less recognition of their achievements.

BBDO Dublin and Lidl crafted an emotive campaign that strikes a chord with anyone watching and has proved to be a very successful partnership between both the LGFA and Lidl.


Wunderman Thompson London – The Red Lioness

Inequality seems to be the running theme with these campaigns and Wunderman Thompson London too thought action needed to be taken. The iconic pub name The Red Lion was changed to The Red Lioness by Wunderman Thompson London during the Women’s World Cup and they also challenged pubs across the UK to screen the Women’s World Cup football games. One of the main problems with women’s sport is the lack of visibility and this clever campaign turned what is traditionally a masculine environment to watch men’s football, into a more welcoming environment for females too. It not only encouraged a larger demographic of women to come out and watch the games but also gave the women’s game a higher profile in the UK by providing what would be a basic level of coverage that the men’s teams get.