Phil Neville unveiled the Lionesses squad for this summer’s World Cup in France one week ago today. In years gone by the news of the England team for a women’s football tournament would have been minimal, perhaps even non-existent. This year it was different.
23 players unveiled by 23 world famous ambassadors on social media. Some of the biggest names in sport, entertainment and even royalty, coming together to reveal the names of each player across a four hour window which dominated the sports, lifestyle and social media agenda.
So how and why did we do it?
Women’s football is on the rise. A fully-professional top flight, more sponsors than ever before and record numbers of girls and women playing the game across the country. Everything is heading in the right direction and we’ve been fortunate to work alongside The FA at the forefront of what is without doubt a boom period for the game. But in order for the rapid rise to continue, we need to make the players household names. That is exactly what we did last week.
The combined followers of the 23 ambassadors was more than 170m, with the video posts viewed more than 6.7m times in the first 72 hours. Engaging the likes of Emma Watson, David Beckham, Ellie Goulding and Prince William means the players reached a massive new audience, one that may not have known the World Cup was taking place this summer and almost certainly won’t be familiar with all of the names in the squad.
As Matt Butler of The i Paper said “The key for the visibility and promotion of the women’s team is that followers outside traditional football fans will have been informed that the national side are indeed playing in a World Cup next month…. if the FA keeps up this level of well-thought-out engagement throughout the World Cup, then expect interest in the side to grow swiftly.”
Of course the seamless execution was months in the making. From an initial long-list of more than one 100 potential ambassadors to the final 23, co-ordinating agents, creatives, social media teams, managers and everyone in between was no mean feat.
The long hours of preparation were all worth it for the overwhelming reaction of the media, supporters and players last week. The squad announcement really feels like a landmark moment for women’s football in this country, with the nation’s interest spiked the squad now have an opportunity to do something very special this summer.