Visa looks to end ‘vicious circle’ in women’s football as it launches World Cup campaign

The campaign focuses on “empowerment and acceptance” as Visa looks to show how pivotal moments off the pitch can influence the next generation of female footballers as part of its FIFA Women’s World Cup sponsorship.

Visa has pledged to help women’s football out of a “vicious circle” and be a catalyst for change ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this June as it unveils a new campaign which concentrates on female empowerment and acceptance.

Speaking to Marketing Week ahead of the tournament, Suzy Brown, Visa’s marketing director for the UK and Ireland, says the company has ramped up its efforts in championing women’s football.

“The women’s game is now close to a tipping point. People have high expectations about the tournament in France this year and we want to be part of this catalyst in getting women’s sport passed that tipping point,” she says.

Visa cemented its support by signing a landmark seven-year partnership with UEFA women’s football at the back-end of last year, making Visa the biggest global sponsor of women’s football.

Last month, the payments giant also pledged to spend as much on marketing the women’s tournament as it did on the men’s FIFA World Cup in Russia last year.

When asked what attracted the brand to the FIFA Women’s World Cup partnership and to women’s football in general, Brown says Visa shares similar values such as acceptance.

“When people make decisions about brands, sure it’s about the product, but it’s also a lot about what a brand stands for: its beliefs, its views and more critically its actions,” she explains.

“It’s an opportunity to showcase our beliefs around acceptance, diversity and female empowerment against the backdrop of women’s football.”

Visa unveils its ‘One Moment’ campaign today (2 May) which celebrates women and amplifies how meaningful moments on and off the pitch, no matter how big or small, have the ability to influence the next generation of females.

Created alongside Saatchi & Saatchi, the global campaign features one 60-second spot as well as a series of short personal documentaries, inspired by the true stories of Visa ambassadors and football stars such as Lucy Bronze (Great Britain), Kim Little (Scotland), and Nadia Nadim (Denmark).

Additionally, the 60-second TV spot shows young budding female footballers at various moments of childhood significance, such as being bought a pair of football boots, scoring a goal against older brothers, or being included in a kick around by a group of girls.

What attracted Brown and the Visa team to the campaign idea is the belief it has longevity.

“We could see the campaign idea had longevity and equally in the future could be used to talk about female entrepreneurs or women in business,” Brown explains.

“We also wanted it to be quite invitational and show moments people can relate to, in terms of whether it’s being a coach, having a coach or buying your daughter a pair of football boots. Those moments create that sense of acceptance, empowerment and ultimately change the game for good.”

Providing a platform

To ensure its partnership with the women’s game isn’t seen as an add-on, Brown says its vital Visa provides female athletes a platform to tell their stories in order to grow engagement and offer fans a more personal link to the sport.

“We wanted to give the players a platform and let people get to know them. If you went up to someone in the street – even if they weren’t a football fan – they’d probably be able to name 10 male players off the top of their head, but they might be a little bit stumped if asked to name 10 female players,” she says.

“When people start to engage with players and recognise them, that’s what gets people engaged in the game.”

According to Brown, Visa will evaluate the success of the campaign by looking at brand health metrics and brand affinity, in terms of how consumers “feel” about the Visa brand.

Brown admits the partnership with women’s football isn’t likely to drive immediate ROI, but she says it is something “we believe passionately about and the right thing to do”.

She adds that the one thing holding back women’s football is the lack of clear role models and and ways into the sport for young girls, which is something Visa plans to change.

“We talk a lot about the vicious circle women’s sport has been in in terms of how it gets less money from sponsors because it’s not on TV. And one of things that’s held it back is there are less clear role models and pathway for girls.”

“What we’re hoping to do in terms of being the catalyst for women’s football is really giving these female players a platform, making them better known, and giving parents and young girls the idea that this is something their kids should get into.”

Visa’s ‘One Moment’ campaign will run in 33 markets for the next two months with the tournament kicking off on 7 June.

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