The FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand. The US team is the defending champion and looking for a three-peat, with England hot on its heels. Here’s what marketers should know about the World Cup.

It’s Going To Be The Biggest So Far

Thirty-two nations are playing, up from 24 in the last version. More than a million tickets have been sold, and it’ll be the most attended Women’s World Cup ever. Over 90% of ad inventory (of which there is more than before because of the additional teams playing) was already sold out in June. No, it does not garner the mania that the Men’s World Cup does — about 5 billion people engaged with the last men’s tournament, compared with just over a billion for the women’s. But a billion should be enough to get you excited!

It’s A Great Environment To Build A Brand

A persistent and pesky annoyance that dogs most marketers is that consumers seldom seem to remember their marketing. Brand recall depends on memory, which forms best when the experiences are emotionally potent. If you’ve ever been in a stadium throbbing with the resonant chanting and foot-stomping of the crowds or heard the commentator scream Gooooooooal, you’ll get why the emotional content of soccer is hard to beat. “Football,” as AFC Richmond’s Dani Rojas tells us, “is life.” And it’s a perfect pairing for memorable brand experiences.

The Reach Is Phenomenal

For global brands, few environments match the expansiveness of the soccer universe. It’s the common denominator among 210 countries where it’s played; it unites the world (except during games when it furiously divides). Soccer lets you go broad and deep, targeting very specific segments. In the US, the Hispanic market is part of Major League Soccer’s DNA, and the organization has effectively tapped into this fandom with a bicultural strategy. Brands targeting younger women will find a ready audience at this World Cup — Gen Z women are 1.6 times as likely to be highly engaged soccer fans as women 45 and over.

Don’t Make It Not About The Game

The discourse about gender equality and bias has its rightful place in any conversation about the Women’s World Cup. But don’t let any of that detract one iota from what’s really happening: a display of exceptional skill and fortitude that will mesmerize the audience and make nations proud (let me remind you that while the US women’s team won the last two Cups, the men’s team failed to qualify in 2018 and only made the round of 16 in 2022). Gender is complicated. Stirring it into the marketing mix makes for a volatile combination (did someone say Bud Light?). It’s time for brands to transcend tokenism and celebrate the sport.

This World Cup will be unlike any before. But this is just the beginning and, as Alan Turing may have put it, a shadow of what it’s going to be. People love soccer; a lot of people love soccer. Put together the reach of the sport with the passion it inspires, and you get a tailor-made combination for marketing.

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