Is UEFA’s female recruitment drive as strong as it can be?

Lauren Joyce on June 6, 2017

Last week UEFA launched a new campaign – #WePlayStrong, which is aimed at increasing the popularity of women’s football.

The TV ad shows young women coming together to play and watch football (soccer) and is somewhat reminiscent of Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign. Whilst the sentiment of the ad remains strong, from its diverse depictions of women to it’s high energy, I wonder if UEFA could have created something more powerful.

The most glaring problem with this ad is that it feels as though UEFA have completely ignored their biggest audience (men) in the quest to attract women. This campaign makes me feel like the ideation process went something like this:

Man One: “we want more women in football”

Man Two: “easy, let’s show more women in our ads”.

And this was what they came up with.

While this campaign answers the brief of making the sport more palatable for women, it fails to address the biggest problem; teenage girls are dropping out of the sport. The tender age of 15 marks a significant decline in female participation in sport, due to a multitude of reasons; puberty, social frameworks and yes, a lack of female heroes in the sport. And while these all have a part to play, the missing insight here is this: the greatest influence for teenage girls is actually still their parents – not their peers.

So, wouldn’t it be more effective to harness the emotional engagement that dads have with the sport and activate it so to encourage participation amongst their daughters?

Of course, this is theoretical but it carries a nice lesson; the answer isn’t always in the end user. It is just as important to understand who you want to attract as it is to understand who is the greatest influencer on that audience. Knowing the answer to the latter will help brands unlock their full audience potential.

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