Brand Strategy

After the Women’s World Cup, what’s next for brands in women’s sports?

Sports marketing leaders told us what they’re paying attention to down the road.
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

· 5 min read

The US women’s national soccer team might have missed its shot at a three-peat—aka winning three World Cups in a row—but that doesn’t mean momentum around women’s sports is slowing down.

This summer’s Women’s World Cup not only had fans and brands around the world hyped about women’s soccer, but also broke viewership records in the US. Now that it’s coming to a close, marketers are thinking about their next moves in women’s sports, an area that’s seeing increased interest from brands.

GMR, an experiential agency that works with the NFL and FIFA, is already fielding interest in the 2027 Women’s World Cup, Alexa Sunderland, VP of client consulting and services, told us.

“My number one thing that I’m always saying to brands is, ‘The earlier, the better,’” she told Marketing Brew. “Not only because the negotiation process and the actual signing of the contract element can take some time, but so that you have time to plan, to organize, and then get out in the market as early as possible to really help raise your brand awareness.”

For those who want to score points with fans before 2027, there are plenty of opportunities.

NWSL: While the US women’s national soccer team is off the global stage for the time being, those players’ stateside league is still up and running. Last year’s championship was the most-watched game in the league’s history, averaging nearly 1 million viewers.

Perhaps that’s why, when Marketing Brew asked 13 sports execs across brands, agencies, advisories, and publications what leagues and events brands should consider getting in on, more than half pointed to the NWSL.

This season is well underway, with the championship scheduled for Nov. 11, but “there are opportunities for brands to invest in the creation of shoulder content or behind-the-scenes stories before, during, or after those milestone events, to get to know the athletes—which is exactly what fans of women’s sports are hungry for,” Kerry Bradley, COO of fan intelligence company Sports Innovation Lab, said. Plus, there’s always next year.

Soccer Football: Elsewhere, there’s the Women’s Super League and the UEFA Women’s Champions League in Europe, which is “the next best place for brands to get involved with elite women’s soccer” outside of international play, Meg Templeton, global brand partnerships director at media company Footballco, said.

Templeton also highlighted South America’s Copa Libertadores Femenina, an annual international soccer competition. Morgan Brennan, head of Indivisa, Footballco’s women’s soccer division, said that 19-year-old Melchie Dumornay of the Haiti national team and the Women’s Champions League team Lyon should be “attractive to brands” given her track record.

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WNBA: In addition to the NWSL, the WNBA is hot in the US—more than half of the execs who spoke with Marketing Brew mentioned the women’s basketball league as well.

The end of the regular season is coming up on Sept. 10, with the finals set for Oct. 20 at the latest. But college basketball season kicks off right after the WNBA wraps up, and after this year’s record-breaking Women’s March Madness, the audience is all but guaranteed.

“Even if you’re not an official partner of the NCAA, there’s a lot of opportunities to align with the sport, one of which could be NIL,” Jon Goynshor, SVP and global head of partnerships at VMLY&R Commerce, said.

Ally Financial—a major sponsor of the NWSL—is one brand betting on college basketball with its inaugural Ally Tipoff game in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Iowa Hawkeyes will play the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Olympics: There’s also the Paris Olympics next summer. Jeff Ehrenkranz, COO at sports marketing agency Allied Sports, noted American swimming phenom Katie Ledecky as a good bet for partnerships.

“All eyes will be on the next wave of young, up-and-coming athletes chasing medals,” including soccer player Sophia Smith and track and field sprinter Sha'carri Richardson, Joe Caporoso, president of sports and entertainment media company Team Whistle, said.

Off-court: Looking for something a little more off the beaten path? There’s plenty of options.

  • “LPGA, World Surf League, tennis, and others outside of the more mainstream women's sports will be really smart investments ahead of the LA28 Olympics,” Bradley said.
  • Ben Phillips, group strategy director at ad agency Mekanism, said skateboarding is gaining traction with brands.
  • Matt Hochberg, founder of Hochberg Sports Marketing, said beach volleyball and the Women’s Professional Fastpitch softball league could also provide marketing opportunities.

“It all comes back to what the objectives are of the brand, but those league level [deals] really can do great things for brands who want to show up, want to be involved,” Sunderland said. “Not just the huge, one-off events.”

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