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Ex-England footballer Eniola Aluko on how brands can help drive women’s sport forward

The Drum 25 Mar 2020 03:54

Brands need to speak to women at the places that they exercise every day in order to drive participation and boost the growth of women’s sport, according to former England footballer and Aston Villa Woman’s sporting director Eniola Aluko.

In partnership with Iris, Aluko was speaking on a panel as part of The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival, looking at how brands can reimagine women’s sport. One of only 11 female footballers have played more than 100 times for England, Aluko contested that too much of the activation around women’s football is rooted in glitz and glamour, and just isn’t relatable.

Watch the full session here.

The narrative of empowerment

“I recently did this amazing campaign with Adidas called Rent a Player, where an everyday women’s five-a-side football team in East London can bring in a professional like me to help out in a match,” she said. “It was wonderful being part of a campaign built around normalising five-a-side football for women and making it a part of their daily life.

Iris’ creative director Gabi Mostert agreed with Aluko’s assessment. She said brands need to look beyond the empowerment narrative and think what lies beyond to drive participation. “If you look at the sports campaigns aimed at women right now, they are either super competitive and aggressively empowering, or at the other end of the scale, they are so gentle and passive they verge on being patronising,” she explained.

How do you make women’s sports more accessible for brands?

“We’ve recently started to sponsor the Women’s Super League, but we know one of the best things we can do is try to drive participation and really invest, so there’s more accessibility and support for women in communities across the country,” he said.

Aluko says marketing around women’s sport is making progress and said it was good to see a more diverse number of female footballers taking part in campaigns.

She concluded: “I think brands are realising that supporting a women’s team can have really positive brand connotations.

Register to watch the full video here.

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AlukofootballEniola AlukoGabi MostertEngland
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