Ad campaigns add to the hype
France are among the teams to have put gender equity in the spotlight this week, with a stunning ad to promote their national team ahead of the World Cup. The ad, which appears to feature French stars Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann actually shows the feats of Les Bleues stars like Sakina Karchaoui and Selma Bacha.
The ad stops midway, and explains that the highlights shown are VFX generations of Mbappe, Griezmann and the other French men in place of the female stars, and goes on to encourage fans to get behind the stars of the upcoming tournament.
The ad, run by Orange Telecom, a leading sponsor for Les Bleues has generated plenty of excitement and attention of the kickoff later this week, just days after the French side played in front of 50,000 fans in the Matildas' send off match.
Orange Telecom wasn't the only big brand to launch its ad campaign ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup. Coca Cola, who has long been a major sporting sponsor, unveiled their campaign too.
As a partner at every tournament since 1991, Coca Cola is experienced with engagement with the FIFA Women's World Cup, and this tournament will be no different.
Alongside the ad, which features the slogan "Believe in Magic", Coca Cola will also be involved in actual World Cup engagement, including Stadium and Fan Zone activations, television commercials and online presence.
Broadcast continues to be a thorn in FIFA's side
Despite Singapore announcing that every match will be available to be streamed or watched for free during the tournament, the broadcast rights continue to be an issue for FIFA.
For the first time, broadcast rights were separated for the WOmen's tournament from the Men's tournament, and some broadcasters have been slow to provide competitive offers to FIFA's satisfaction.
After months of talks, most broadcast deals have now been agreed, but the combined sum is understood to be around $200m in rights fees. FIFA's initial hopes were that the tournament would generate more than $300m in rights fees, so the final sum is a considerable shortfall.
Despite this, there have been some highlights of the broadcasting process. Australia had almost 230,000 tune in on Channel 10's secondary channel for the Matilas' farewell game on Friday. In the US, Fox reported that it had sold more than 90% of its advertising slots more than a month out from the start of the tournament, and having doubled what was sold for the 2019 tournament.
Despite the time differences for European and American markets, there has been a strong response from advertisers in key markets, and there is hope that the broadcast rights will continue to grow in value in future tournaments.
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Teams battle for equity in the spotlight
As the tournament approaches, there are still a number of teams embroiled in battles with outside stakeholders on the subject of gender equity. As the tournament gets closer by the day, these disputes will only be put more in the spotlight.
The French side, who were one of a number of teams who had reported issues with their coach, and sought the removal of the coach, played well under Hervé Renard, who was installed recently at the behest of the players. Renard, was appointed to replace Corinne Diacre, who the players did not gel with, and who the players reported triggered crying and distress while engaged in national teams duties.
Renard is now working with a much more cohesive group of players than Jorge Vilda of Spain. Vidal is at the centre of controversy, after players complained and banded together in mutiny in response to poor treatment, which they said affected their emotional and mental state.
Fifteen players from the Spanish side signed an open letter saying that they wouldn't play under Vidal, and while three of those eventually made their way onto the plane for the World Cup, twelve of them refused, and will not play under Vidal. It leaves the Spanish team facing an uphill battle missing a number of key players, as they fight for respectful treatment by the national federation.
Canada and England are also among sides that have reported issues and complained about a lack of gender equity, particularly for payment, but these concerns appear to have been put on hold for the sake of the tournament. Those players will be hoping to perform to bring gravitas and attention to their disputes, citing unfair treatment compared to their respective (less successful) men's sides.