Empowering Nike ad celebrates US win in FIFA Women’s World Cup

Nike has been lauded for an advertisement it launched to celebrate the US winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup for a record fourth time.

“This ad is truly amazing, as it not only showcases the desire for the team to win the tournament, but more importantly, inspire the next generation of both men and women’s soccer players in the US,” 12Up wrote.

The US women’s soccer team became the first in the history of women’s soccer to win four World Cups when they beat the Netherlands 2-0 for their second consecutive title before a capacity 57,900 crowd at Stade de Lyon, France.

Nike’s 60-second ad, which features black-and-white images of US players and their fans, has a message of “believe in yourself”.

“I believe … that a whole generation of girls and boys will go out and play and say things like, ‘I want to be like Megan Rapinoe when I grow up’ and that they’ll be inspired to talk and win and stand up for themselves…”

It’s an emotional pitch.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup has been a success with TV viewing records broken across the globe, including in France, the US, Germany and China. Almost 59 million people watched Brazil’s last-16 game against France, making it the most watched women’s football match of all time.

Unprecedented levels of media coverage have also helped draw in new fans; 62 countries held TV rights to broadcast the tournament compared with 37 in 2015, BBC Sport reported

“We knew that the World Cup was going to be big,” said Marzena Bogdanowicz, the English FA’s Head of Commercial and Marketing for Women’s Football. “Unlike in 2015 (in Canada), this World Cup has been in the same time zone as England and at Euro 2017, we already started to see and feel something different.

“We have been talking about a tipping point since last November. There was a wave coming and we knew we had to be ready.”

Fox Sports, which had English-language rights to 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup matches in the US, reportedly sold out its ad inventory around the 2019 tournament, with the average 30-second spot going for close to US$140,000 – more than three times the US$40,000 asking price for the 2015 World Cup in Canada. An incredible 7 million viewers watched the USA v England semi-final.

On a brand level, sporting outfitter Adidas has said that all its sponsored athletes on the winning World Cup team will receive the same performance bonus as their male peers.

Outside the tournament, corporate sponsors are also putting their money where their mouths are to back the professional women’s game. Banking group Barclays signed a US$12.7 million three-season deal to become the title sponsor of England’s top league, the Women’s Super League, through to 2022, a record investment in UK women’s sports. In December, credit card company Visa signed a seven-year deal to become the main partner of the Women’s Champion’s League.

In addition to the commercial, Nike also immediately unveiled a special edition championship USWNT jersey after the World Cup triumph. The jersey features four stars, each representing a World Cup win. A brand-new golden star sits above the three stars seen on the USWNT’s jerseys throughout the World Cup.

Megan Rapinoe, USA soccer star

Megan Rapinoe, who scored the crucial penalty to send the US on their way to victory in the final, was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament and was named Player of the World Cup final. Beyond the pitch, a clip of Rapinoe filmed months prior by soccer magazine Eight by Eight went viral in late June.

“I’m not going to the f– White House,” she said, referencing the tradition of winning sports teams visiting the White House to celebrate their victory. Rapinoe has called herself a “walking protest” of the Trump administration.

The quote was embraced by some and reviled by others. And then President Trump himself weighed in.

“Megan should WIN first before she TALKS,” he tweeted.

Film stars are considering dying their hair purple as a tribute; her showman-like open-arm celebration became a meme.

The crowd at the Women’s World Cup Final shouted “Equal Pay, “Equal Pay”, for which Rapinoe has been a fierce advocate of and is leading a dispute between the players and US Soccer over pay parity.

“I think everyone is ready for this conversation to move to the next step,” Rapinoe said after hearing the “equal pay” chant ring round after the final and the FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, being booed.

“I think we’re done with: ‘Are we worth it, should we have equal pay, is the market the same?’ Yada yada. Everyone’s done with that; fans are done with that, players are done with that. In a lot of ways I think sponsors are done with that,” she continued.

“Let’s get to the next point. What’s next? How do we support women’s federations and women’s programmes around the world? What can FIFA do to do that? What can we do to support the leagues around the world?” she said, having rocked into the press conference late, exclaiming “I just killed doping!”

“We as players, every player at this World Cup, put on the most incredible show that you could ever ask for. We cannot do anything more to impress more, to be better ambassadors, to take on more, to play better or do anything. It’s time to take it forward to the next step. A little public shame never hurt anybody, right? I’m down with the boos.”

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