This percentage is mirrored in the number of women CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies: 5.4%, and though not one is a sports company, women are rising through the corporate ranks to become decision-makers. The underlying cultural attitudes around women and women’s sports are slowly changing and organisations such as Women in Sport and This Girl Can are just two examples of movements working to change perceptions.
Effective communication is the key for athletes to promote themselves and their sport and to increase their share of the sponsorship pie. By becoming part of the conversation in social media and thus becoming more relevant, potential sponsors can see the value of the athlete to their brand and the business plan becomes clear. Ultimately, they need to know they will get a return on their money as well as activation avenues. Sponsoring female athletes creates a potential new audience and revenue stream as women today have huge buying power.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has been able to translate the popularity of the sport into large sponsorship and media deals. Last year, it signed a 10-year, $525 million media rights deal with PERFORM, the largest media rights and production deal in the history of women’s sports. Tennis is leading the way for gender equality with equal prize money for the four Grand Slams. Only a few female stars outside of Tennis such as Mia Hamm & Ronda Rousey attract the huge deals that the men so easily do.
Creating sponsorship for female athletes is no different to men: athletes need to be ambassadors for the brand and communicate well the brand’s culture. By using female athletes, brands could not only access a wider audience but also create opportunities to activate in new and creative ways. Sponsors who integrate into women centric platforms showcase their support for gender equality and diversity.