Whether you prefer Wembley or Wimbledon, there has been no shortage of sports to watch this summer. 2022 has provided another ‘summer of sport’ in Britain, with the Commonwealth Games, the British Grand Prix and first rounds of the Premier League still to come.

As a nation of sport-lovers, brands in the UK have often looked to sporting events to build partnerships that help them connect with the country. Brand spending has historically focussed on men’s sports, but as women’s sports gain popularity (over 9 million people watched the recent England Women’s Euros semi-final vs Sweden), brands are increasingly using this platform to build successful and meaningful partnerships that resonate with the public and this is especially true of Women’s football.

Between the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019, the Barclays’ Women’s Super League, and this year’s Women’s Euro, the popularity of women’s football has grown exponentially in the United Kingdom.

Broadcasting is one of the biggest factors behind this growth. Surveys have repeatedly attributed the limited popularity of women’s sports to the lack of media coverage. With women’s sports often failing to achieve more than 10% of all sport’s coverage and England being unchallenged in their bid to host the Women’s Euros, it seemed ambitious for UEFA to expect a global audience of over 250 million to tune into the game.

However, women’s football has accelerated in popularity. This was highlighted in 2021, when the Women’s Super League landed a 3-year broadcast deal with Sky Sports and BBC, believed to be worth £8 million a season. Since signing the deal, Sky Sports have reported the average audience has increased by 170% in the last year.

The increased coverage has had knock-on effects for live attendance figures, which can be seen in the Women’s Euros. The opening game between England and Austria attracted a crowd of 68,781, surpassing the previous record for a women’s Euro game (41,301 in 2013), whilst UEFA announced that a record-breaking 500,000 tickets were sold before the tournament began.

With this as background, there are significant opportunities for brands.

The 2022 Edelman UK Trust Barometer shows the public increasingly expect businesses to address societal problems, including tackling gender inequality. The data shows that 58% of us will buy or advocate for brands based on their beliefs and values and this increases significantly amongst Gen Z, with Edelman’s ‘The Power of Gen Z’ report showing 9 in 10 people want the brands they use to be involved in causes that better the world.

Barclay’s sponsorship of the Women’s Super League sends a strong message to the wider public about its commitment to gender equality in sport. The three-year sponsorship is the biggest investment by a brand in women’s sport in the UK and is bolstered by their strategic ambition to give girls parallel access to football in schools. Having already reached girls in 10,000 schools nationwide, the bank is publicly delivering on their promises and demonstrating their values.

It is not just the growth of women’s football that offers brands a fresh opportunity to connect with their audiences. Earlier this year, TikTok announced it was becoming the Title Partner of the Women’s Six Nations and Autumn Nations Series from 2022 to 2025. Recognising the opportunity and platform available to them, TikTok have big ambitions for women’s rugby; their investment and promotional support will drive the growth of the game itself and increase the audience, all while helping the brand reach new audiences and communicate its values in a new way.

This Summer has confirmed that women’s sport is not having a moment, but a nationwide movement. Culminating in a historic Euros victory for England’s Lionesses, the only way is up for brands backing the campaign for gender equality.

Explore The Power of Gen Z Report