How Under Armour and Coca-Cola are overcoming ‘brand laziness’ in marketing to women around sport

Traditional marketing has stayed clear to market to women through sport because it was partly considered a male bastion until very recently and more so because brands were lazy to experiment with non traditional marketing methods. But brands like Coke, Under Armour and Heineken have come out and thrashed all stereotypes.
Brands are increasingly taking note of women taking part in sport. Speaking at Advertising Week Europe, Under Armour‘s former European marketing chief Christopher Carroll said the sport brand’s women’s division will outpace men’s within four years and that it will be “critical” to its success.

However, he admitted that the brand “didn’t get it right initially” when it came to engaging this growing audience.
“Women are increasingly more physically active. On the surface, it’s a great opportunity. But the real challenge lies in attacking that and exchanging value,” he said.
Brand laziness
While men and women are equally as passionate about sport, their motivations and triggers for sport differ. Carroll believes that the biggest barrier to both brands and sporting bodies successfully connecting with women is “laziness”.
He explained: “[Brands] are not telling the right stories. Take the Olympics for example – it’s not just about the podium, but the journey of getting there. That is attractive to women, and that’s how you get to women’s hearts and minds and ignite a conversation.”
Having grassroots appeal
Speaking at the same event, Coca-Cola added that it has a “huge legacy” when it comes to being involved with sport, pointing to its sponsorship of the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. Liz Lowe, corporate responsibility and sustainability manager at the soft drinks maker, believes sport remains important to the brand to this day.
She said: “We still see it as the most powerful platform to bring people together. It’s a huge common denominator, no matter which age, race, gender. Sport is the common language and passion, and why not connect with consumers when they’re at their happiest?”
Lowe also pointed to the government’s new sport strategy, released in December, which will see the sector funded differently. Sports will have to demonstrate positive outcomes in terms of mental health, as well as social, individual, community and economic development. “Sport has to work for social good. If you can’t prove this, you won’t get funding,” she commented.
To engage women, brands also shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to them through non-traditional channels.
Lowe concluded: “It doesn’t have to be through traditional channels. Women like engaging with brands through social media and can be loyal to a brand because it has done something that meant something to them. That’s where the opportunity lies.”
First published by Leonie Roderick for the Marketingweek.

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