Instagram Marketing for FIFA Women’s World Cup
We’re big US Women’s Soccer fans at Yarrow Creative, and we are eagerly following their matches Down Under as part of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. From a marketing standpoint, we were curious what brands are doing to show an alliance with the 23 women on the US squad. According to Fox Sports, the US vs. Vietnam game drew 6.8 million viewers—the most for a soccer match since the men’s World Cup finals last year. If you’re an advertiser looking for mass appeal those numbers are enticing. So what brands are vying for the eyes of US Women’s Soccer fans? And how are they getting their ad impressions?
Our curiosity lead us over to Instagram where we found big brands investing in influencer campaigns and sponsored content—all aiming for high authenticity and all looking pretty slick. It used to be those two ideas could not coexist. Authentic is low budget, raw emotions, and it doesn’t feel staged. Slick advertisements are highly processed, highly scripted and prearranged. What we’re seeing on Instagram is a strong strategy among brands to pull those two elements together: brand perfection and a soccer star, grounded in her voice and character.
Marketing on Instagram for FIFA Women’s World Cup
This list is what we’re spotting on the ‘gram today, but it's not meant to contain all the marketing—just the techniques and campaigns that caught our eye on this particular game day. It’s game two for the US tonight—we take on the Netherlands in Wellington, New Zealand. Leave the orange apparel in your closet—today is a red, white and blue day!
Let’s consider Rose Lavelle | Influencer Marketing
The Washington Post had a feature on Lavelle today, citing stats from the US World Cup opener vs Vietnam, and basically said she brings the energy and the results to the offensive line. I doubt US Coach Vlatko Andonovski is unaware of her contributions—neither are her 500,000+ instagram followers—and several big brands that partner with Lavelle.
First up: Nike, of course. And I must say, Nike is always the brand I enjoy watching when it comes to the US Women’s Soccer. They nail brand stories, consistently. As far as doing an authentic yet glossy ad with Lavelle, I enjoyed the Nike Unpacked Reel. It makes good use of Instagram's collaboration function; the post is shared by both Nike and Lavelle. Stylistically, it looks like it could have been made in an app: integrating the platform’s collage-like aesthetic rather than Nike’s typically cinematic style. As a fan and former soccer player, I also liked to hear that Lavelle likes a certain cleat—and why—and that off the field she likes a “groutfit,” which, what? It looked like a gray sweatsuit to me, but that lexicon switch is memorable, and the internet says “groutfit” is an all gray outfit (news to me). Let’s get back to the marketing aspects. The ad ended with a straight-up call to action and logos on the end card, like a traditional television ad. Somehow, that ending was unobtrusive.
Chipotle also is in cahoots with Lavelle this year. A reel labeled “Paid Advertisement” on Lavelle’s profile appears to be a made-for-tv style ad in its slick presentation and style. It starts with title graphics, “Chipotle presents unwrapped with Rose Lavelle” and unfurls into a story about how Lavelle was determined to make the US Women’s National Team, and ultimately she had to work on her physical game, her mental game, “What am I doing to help be just 1% better?” and eat at Chipotle. I mean, it’s a stretch, from a believability standpoint and a story arc. I watched because it’s in Lavelle’s voice and there are great images that feel behind-the-scenes yet are certainly staged.
Rose Lavelle’s brand partnerships are what we’d consider celebrity endorsements ten years ago, but these days we’d file them as an influencer campaign.
The Risk of a Celebrity Endorsement in a Paid Campaign
The risk that brands run with influencer or celebrity endorsement campaigns is that the audience doesn’t remember the brand, but they do remember the personality. Similar to how I put up with Chipotle’s ad because it had pretty moving images and footage of soccer and Lavelle as a kid that I’d never seen before, but I’ll probably forget which taco bowl sponsored Rose Lavelle this season. I bet next time I need cleats, I’ll remember that she wears Nikes, though probably not that it's the Tiempo cleat. That’s OK by Nike, I’m sure.
Alex Morgan Effortlessly Satirizes Perfume Marketing, While Marketing Herself, Nike
I saw this launch last week, and while I was flying through my feed, I stopped to see what Alex was doing on a beach, in full game gear, knocking headers into the ocean, what? In typical Nike fashion, this cinematic ad is well-shot, well-written and satirizes perfume advertising. Honestly, I had to watch it a few times to be sure she wasn’t really launching a perfume—and mocking a perfume launch at the same time.
Every shot draws you in: Alex on a precipice over the ocean; Alex wandering through narrow passages; Alex running down the beach and raising up heart hands. And then there’s the the horse that appears as it does on romance novel covers, soccer balls flying from all directions, a field strategy drawn in the sand, and most effectively, a male voice-over with a French accent, and is Alex whispering responses. I’m going to go ahead and give this ad an A+ because it’s intriguing, humorous and made me want to watch it three times.
Instagram: What’s going on at the team level? Let’s look @USWNT
One more Instagram marketing spotlight before I start prepping for the game this evening—you are tuning in, right? What’s the official US Women’s Team is doing on Instagram?
At a glance, I see a partnership with Volkswagen. Now the Volkswagen reel is stealthy on the profile grid. I clicked a blurry picture of Megan Rapinoe hugging an unknown blue mascot and a video begins, it looks like grainy smartphone footage of a different player, Trinity Rodman, saying goodbye to her family at the airport. Then, suddenly the video cuts to black with a spinning graphic that says “Behind the Crest,” which is followed by the US Women’s team logo and the VW logo—and then it cuts to footage of the back of a VW Atlas that wooden links of dragon tail wrapped around it? What’s going on here…As the car zooms of it is revealed there are two dragon tails, one coming out of each of the backseat windows…alright..I’m hoping that this is a reference to an on-going campaign for VW Atlas, but I’m not going to check. An ad on this scale should be able to stand on its own. I don’t care about the car or the art projects, I want to see my team! Where’s Rapinoe and that blue character she was hugging?!
The video cuts right from that car shot to players loading up on flights for Auckland. I mean, no transition from a storyline at all. They could have had someone, any of the 23 players catch a ride to the airport in a VW Atlas, right? Low hanging fruit, and the player would have appreciated the lift, I’m sure. Anyhow, this strange sponsorship video meanders on and I finally get to see Rapinoe, her hug with Tazuni, and hear she and Alex Morgan talk about how the excitement is building for the cup—while her team practices in kits with a large VW logos on them. It feels messy. I did notice better appearances by VW, those intros on the USsoccer website, where we are invited to meet the 23 players on the World Cup roster, and especially the commercials that preceded them.
That’s it for now, but I’m curious what is catching your attention with the marketing of the US Women's FIFA World Cup 2023?