Brand Strategy

Following the Women’s World Cup? You’re sure to see Ally Financial.

The financial services company and NWSL sponsor is running broadcast ads on Fox Sports and campaigns on other platforms.
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· 4 min read

If you follow women’s sports, you’re probably familiar with Ally Financial.

In May 2022, the financial services company pledged to split its ad spend on men’s and women’s sports equally within five years. In the year since, Ally has started to make good on that promise with a variety of deals, including an increased investment with CBS which landed the NWSL Championship in a prime-time slot for the first time, and a multiyear, multimillion-dollar deal with Disney and ESPN that includes official sponsorship of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Ally is particularly active in the world of women’s soccer—as the league’s first official banking sponsor, its logo appears on the sleeves of all NWSL kits, and its “Team Ally” roster of athletes and creators includes several current or former NWSL players. So it would be pretty surprising if the brand didn’t have a presence at this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“We’ve been looking at media packages, honestly, since the beginning of the year,” CMO Andrea Brimmer told Marketing Brew. “We held placeholder money for it because we would be conspicuously absent if we weren’t there.”

Still, Brimmer said there was a time she was worried World Cup broadcast ads might not have been in the cards for Ally. But a deal with Fox Sports came to fruition, she said, and the brand is also planning a range of other campaigns elsewhere to support that buy.

Be there or be square

Fox Sports, which holds the US broadcast rights to the 2023 World Cup, gave “incumbent” advertisers the chance to buy inventory first, according to Brimmer, which resulted in a bit of a waiting game for newcomer Ally.

“I was worried that we weren’t gonna get in there, to be honest with you,” Brimmer told us. “The demand for women’s sports is so high. It’s a good problem to have…but there were multiple months that we were scenario planning for Plan B, which is, if we couldn’t get media in the actual World Cup, what would be the other things that we could do to surround the World Cup in lieu of media in the event we had gotten shut out?”

Eventually, Ally secured a “healthy amount of spots [in the tournament]” with the help of its media agency, EssenceMediacom. With a variety of spots on hand, including some from its “IconicALLY” campaign and a new campaign “that speaks to the cultural influence that women’s sports have right now,” Ally will make a “game-time decision” about which ads will run when, Brimmer said.

Flood the zone

Ally didn’t entirely scrap that Plan B scenario for inventory surrounding the World Cup once it sorted out its broadcast ads. As of mid-June, Brimmer said Ally was starting to put together social media activations, and by July, had plans with former USWNT player Julie Foudy, who will be creating behind-the-scenes social content at the World Cup and integrations on her podcast, Laughter Permitted, for Ally.

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Brimmer said the company also had “deep conversations” with media companies focused on women’s sports, like The Gist and Just Women’s Sports, to discuss potential collaborations.

Ally did not share how much the company spends on marketing and the amount it allocates to sports, though all the media buys surrounding the World Cup have helped Ally make progress on its 50/50 pledge, according to Brimmer. When the company first made the pledge, it was spending 90% of its marketing budget on men’s sports and 10% on women’s, she said; It’s on track to reach a 60/40 split between men’s and women’s by the end of this year.

“I’m more worried about next year without the World Cup,” she said. “Where will we find enough media to be able to stay on the current trajectory?”

There are factors that have Brimmer thinking that Ally will figure it out: The NWSL’s growth hasn’t shown any signs of slowing, with last year’s prime-time championship being the most-watched game in the history of the league and record-setting attendance so far this season. Plus, the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris are right around the corner.

On the whole, more brands are becoming interested in the ad inventory surrounding women’s sports, Brimmer said, but there’s still a “nascent amount of media that is available.”

“For us, it is continually getting creative and working with legacy media partners, like the deal that we did with ESPN and Disney, to sit together and say, ‘Okay, how can we aggregate enough media to have something that’s meaningful to do together?’”

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