Inside the top five ads for the FIFA Women's World Cup

By Ruby Derrick | 23 August 2023

The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup kicked goals and broke records on all fronts; from sporting victories to advertising success and a first for Australia as host. 

Luma Research, specialist brand and communications insights agency, watched the tournament with a close eye 

Gerogia Phillips, COO, and Sally Joubert, CEO at Luma Reseach, analysed the FIFA ads from a creative lens, which sparked a curiosity on what the pair could learn from the campaigns produced by the big brand sponsors.  

From an advertising perspective, Seven Network’s reach figure hit as many as 11.15 million viewers, making it the highest rating television program by that metric since OzTAM records have been kept since 2001, said Phillips.  

“So, this means that the brands who chipped in and showed their support for the event have won too,” she said. 

“The Luma were interested to understand more about the advertising and brand impact, so last week we partnered with PureProfile interviewed more than 500 Australians about the key sponsors’ campaigns.” 

Sally Joubert

Joubert (pictured right) noted that the team’s research confirmed this years World Cup brought in many new fans.  

“Around half of those surveyed claimed this is the first time they have watched a FIFA Women’s World Cup. And the majority claimed to watch the games on TV at home or with friends,” said Joubert. 

“And from an advertising standpoint, this meant that the ads were seen…and seen by everyone!” 

Recognition of the ads was strong, said Phillips and Joubert, and was best for the Visa and Hyundai commercials. 

Interestingly, said the pair, the ad reach was consistent across the age demographics. It is getting harder to reach younger people on linear TV but this was one of those rare monolithic events that had their attention regardless of age. 

Ad Recognition for those who watched:

  • Visa 57% 
  • Hyundai 51% 
  • Coke 45% 
  • Adidas 42% 
  • Nike 39% 

Phillips said this strong attention gave the brands associated with the FIFA Women’s World Cup an opportunity to show support for women’s sport, but also to reach their audience, build a strong connection with viewers and borrow some equity from the event to help strengthen their own brand reputation. 

Georgia Phillips

Many of the big brand sponsors produced new campaigns, and so from a creative perspective, our curious Luma team wanted to see what we could learn from them,” said Phillips (pictured right).

Phillips and Joubert have broken down some of the iconic ads from the tournament, analysing each with their research findings.  

Hyundai’s ‘Goal of the Century’

This ad was a high performer. The engagement level was high as it was perceived to be very original and memorable. The captivating storyline takes viewers on a history lesson of women’s soccer with engaging visuals and at a compelling pace which is engaging. The ad features some of the sports’ most legendary moments from 1850 up to the present day. According to Sungwon Jee, Senior Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer at Hyundai, the ad was designed to continue to foster inclusivity and equality throughout the sports world. 

Our research found the ad to effective generating strong empathy with viewers who like seeing the significant progress describing it as ‘confidence building’, ‘advancement’, ‘achievement’ and ‘quality’. 

Nike’s ‘Flip the Game’

This ad featured Sam Kerr and was one of 11 ads Nike created for the 2023 World Cup. Like the Hyundai ad, the Nike ad also attracted strong Attention in Australia and our research showed it was one of the most engaging ads. With a great soundtrack and capitalising on Sam’s brilliance and popularity, the ad was highly likeable and relatable. Viewers talked about Sam being the ‘real deal’ and they liked seeing the diversity and reach of her influence with so many fans showing their involvement with the game. The clever casting is the key driver of attention in ‘Flip the Game’.

Coca-Cola's 'Believing is Magic'

Coca-Cola is a longtime sponsor of many sports events and in doing so has created some of the most iconic ads. This year at the FIFA Women's World Cup they took a nostalgic approach with the continuation of their ‘Believing is Magic’ campaign. The ad features American player Alex Morgan, NZ player Katie Bowden and Aussie Ellie Carpenter and tells us a little about how they were before being on soccer's biggest stage. Viewers loved these back stories and find them easy to understand and follow. According to Coca-Cola, their partnership with FIFA Women’s World Cup “embodies the optimism, inclusion, equality, and progress that drives the world of sports and inspires us all” and the ad communicates this. Our research confirms this showing strong viewer empathy and likeability.

Adidas’ ‘Play Until They Can't Look Away

This campaign featured a who's who of soccer. The players pass to each other and cause a bit of a mess in a supermarket. The lineup of stars include Alessia Russo, Lena Oberdorf, Mary Fowler and Lionel Messi. They showcase their skills alongside Adidas’ stylish streetwear – clearly trying to reinforce the cool factor for the brand. Interestingly this ad also features a bit of nostalgia/history with Beckham and Jenna Ortega, joining in on the action. Most loved the action and the soccer stars, and our ratings show the ad is engaging and likeable. The only watchout was linked to confusion with some who found the ad a bit too busy and hard to follow. 

Visa’s ‘Behind Every Number’

This ad had the strongest reach of all the ads and also the highest level frequency. Given so many people felt that they had seen the ad a lot, by the end of the campaign, it's now showing some signs of wearout. Despite the wearout viewers still engaged with the story of the young girl and her journey to becoming a soccer star. Overall liking was also strong – particularly for those aged under 44 years and this was driven by the strength of the casting which resonated well. 

Phillips and Joubert said there was much to celebrate among the sponsorship ad campaigns.  

The ads were noticed and seemed to nail the tone with an upbeat sense of positivity and celebration that resonated, they said. 

And this was appreciated by the audience with around 60% of them who claimed to feel better about brands who showed their support.

Looks like it wasn't just the Matildas who kicked goals.” 

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