On May 31, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) launched their first ever European campaign, designed to transform women’s football (American soccer) by increasing female participation. The campaign is called Together #WePlayStrong, and its main focus is on teenagers.
The campaign is based on internal research done by the UEFA, which claims that “80 percent of teen girls exhibit more confident behavior when playing football.” If girls are involved in sports at a young age, they will learn to value themselves as individuals while also learning to value the team of women with which they play. This message follows them as the grow and experience the world.
The main advertisement for the campaign features the rags-to-riches story of a girls team that begins their football journey scrimmaging in the streets, then ends up playing a huge championship game in a packed stadium. It begins and ends with a girl having the confidence to join the team.
Not only does the ad highlight women of all ages and backgrounds, it also depicts female coaches, referees, and a female DJ, who plays an upbeat dance track with female vocals. The ad was created by FCB Inferno, a London-based ad agency that was inspired by the This Girl Can campaign, a project designed to inspire women of all ages to exercise and be active.
There have been small efforts to direct attention to women’s football, but men and women’s advertising have typically been done together, which does not allow for as much attention for either party as individual advertisements would.
“Maybe we didn’t go hard enough on pushing the women’s game in the past, but now all the puzzle pieces have come together and we’re ready to really invest. The support is coming from the very top of the UEFA,” says Peter Willems, the head of marketing activities and sponsorship at UEFA.
There is also a year-long social media campaign for women’s participation in football. Women and girls can access the #WePlayStrong website and get involved in the campaign by creating a sticker snap. Players can upload photos of themselves and their teammates participating in the sport and decorate them with the provided stickers and frames, then upload them to social media with the hashtag #WePlayStrong. Practice tips for players of all ages are also available for download on the website.
An important part of the campaign’s actions is to encourage brands to support for this push for change, but Willems is not worried about that.
“In seven years time, I’d like the women’s UEFA Champion League final to have as much buzz and sponsors as the men’s equivalent. We want to build long-term partnerships with brands and there’s already lots of interest,” says Willems.
Willems and the Together #WePlayStrong team wants to inspire girls to join the growing sport, and the campaign is expected to double female football participation in the UK. With so much love and effort being put into giving female football players the attention they deserve, equality throughout the sport is evident in the near future.
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