– Campaign launched after Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation research shows that the success of women’s sports on the pitch isn’t being matched by progress off it
– Women’s sport has accounted for just 0.4% of the value of reported sponsorship deals in sport since September 2011[i]
– Women’s sport makes up only 7% of total sports coverage in the media[ii]
On the eve of International Women’s Day, the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) is launching a new campaign, ‘Say Yes to Success’ aiming to secure increases in both commercial investment for, and media coverage of, women’s sport.
Despite great progress in the development of commercial partnerships in women’s cycling, football, netball and rowing, the shocking fact revealed by WSFF’s report ‘Women’s Sport: Say Yes to Success’ is that since September 2011, women’s sport has accounted for a pitiful 0.4% of the total value of reported UK sponsorship deals in sport.[iii]
In addition, whilst interest from television companies in covering more women’s sport is undoubtedly increasing, women’s sport makes up only 7% [iv]of all sports coverage in the media; this despite an audience which, according to WSFF research, is crying out for more.[v]
The good news is that women’s sport attracts extensive coverage during major global events such as the Olympics. However, at other times the annual sporting calendar is dominated by a well-established series of, almost exclusively male, sporting events. The next big event is always on the horizon – and invariably it focuses on men’s sport. Journalists, fans and commercial partners know what to expect, when to expect it and what sort of experience it will deliver.
For women’s sport to make progress, it must secure more media coverage, more commercial investment, and excite and attract the fan base. To do this it needs to develop its own calendar of major events which fans, the media, and commercial partners come to expect, anticipate and look forward to.
The campaign calls on sponsors, the media and sports to Say Yes to Success by:
Pledging their support for our campaign
Joining our new Action Group to identify the key elements of successful commercial and media partnerships in women’s sport. This will help the creation of a packed calendar of high quality events and competitions for women’s sport and drive up overall levels of commercial investment and media profile.
Ruth Holdaway, CEO of the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation said:
“Today we are launching our Say Yes to Success Campaign to build an exciting calendar of woman’s sporting events. This means strengthening existing events where possible, as well as creating new ones.
“On the pitch, in the pool, on the track and recently on the snow and ice in Sochi, women’s sport has had an incredibly successful couple of years.
“Women’s, cycling, football, netball and rowing have all shown that it is possible to create hugely popular and commercially viable women’s sports events and competitions. We have also seen BT Sport, the BBC and Sky Sports all take steps to cover more women’s sport. But the research is clear. With only 0.4% of commercial investment and 7% of media profile more needs to be done.
“We are urging sponsors, the media and sports to Say Yes to Success for women’s sport.”
Minister for Sport and Equalities, Helen Grant said:
“Strengthening women’s sport in this country is one of my top priorities and I am right behind the ‘Say Yes to Success’ campaign. I want to see more women getting involved in sport at all levels – from the playing pitch to the boardroom. But to help with that ambition we also need greater involvement from the media, more companies to back women’s sport as sponsors and our fantastic female sport stars to be given greater prominence as role models. Since London 2012 there have been some welcome moves that have put women’s sport higher up the agenda. But there is still much more that can be done.”
Barbara Keeley MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Sport said:
“Our sportswomen have had amazing success in competition, so it is disappointing that progress off the pitch hasn’t kept pace. I back the ‘Say Yes to Success’ campaign and would ask that anyone that cares about women’s sport to do the same.”
Helena Morrissey, Chief Executive of Newton Investment Management, comments on the benefits of sponsoring the Women’s Boat Race and opportunities for other companies:
“Newton’s sponsorship of the Women’s Boat Race has more than paid for itself; we’ve had unequivocal positive PR and feedback, and we have benefitted from the association with completely transforming something. There is also an appetite to be seen to be committed to gender diversity. Decisions about whether to invest cannot be made on existing viewing figures. Instead companies must consider what the viewing figures could be if there was investment and meaningful partnerships between all concerned.”
Guy Frobisher – Marketing Director, Continental Tyres UK and Ireland comments on their partnership with women’s football:
“It made perfect commercial sense for Continental Tyres, one of the world’s leading partners of football worldwide, to take a position as a founding partner of The FA Women’s Super League in 2011, helping us to engage with an influential consumer and an important part of our customer base. After 3 successful years of growing our awareness amongst the fan base it was an easy decision for us to renew our support of women’s football for the next 4 years.”
Ian Sykes – Director of 438 Marketing discusses why new soft drink ZEO have entered England Netball’s largest ever commercial partnership:
“ZEO were interested in reaching a female audience within an environment that promoted a healthy, active, balanced lifestyle and netball delivers that. The eight Superleague franchises act as regional marketing hubs, giving ZEO the opportunity to run out experiential sampling across a decent geographical spread.”
Guy Elliott Director of SweetSpot (organisers of cycling’s brand new Women’s Tour) comments on the need for a greater calendar of events and the opportunity for sponsors with The Women’s Tour:
“Elite sport can’t survive on events every four years. For women’s cycling it’s imperative to develop regular top events to allow the best in the world to compete with each other.”
“The Women’s Tour offers a very affordable entry point to potential sponsors, with three key benefits. Firstly, a very traditional return on investment with strong media interest – ITV4 and Eurosport have already committed to covering the race. Secondly, a brilliant opportunity for socially responsible corporates – the Women’s Tour will offer positive role models and links strongly to a health and participation agenda. And thirdly it gives them the chance to be associated with the market-leading event from women’s sport right from the beginning and help shape its future.”
Broadcaster Simon Green (BT Sport) comments on why TV broadcasters are looking to cover women’s sport and how organisers of events can secure more coverage:
“It is clear that women’s sport does have the power to excite and drive audiences if it is of the right standard and staged in the right way. Women’s sport also needs to create storylines and narratives to drive interest between the sporting contests.”
Notes to Editors:
Ruth Holdaway, CEO, Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation
Peter Robb, Brand and Advertising Manager at Continental Tyres UK and Ireland (available between 1100 and 1200 for phone interviews)
Jo Adams, Head of Marketing and Commercial, England Netball
Ian Sykes, Director of 438 Marketing (who manage the biggest ever commercial deal in netball between England Netball and ZEO)
Guy Elliott, Director of SweetSpot (organisers of cycling’s brand new Women’s Tour)
[i] Data provided by Havas Sports and Entertainment and taken from The World Sponsorship Monitor
[ii] Data provided by Kantar Media and relates to the total sports coverage in the media in October 2013
[iii] Data provided by Havas Sports and Entertainment and taken from The World Sponsorship Monitor
[iv] Data provided by Kantar Media and relates to the total sports coverage in the media in October 2013
[v] According to an opinion poll conducted on behalf of WSFF (with a sample size of 1445) six out of ten sports fans said that they would like to see more coverage of women’s sport on TV