What U.S. Women’s Soccer Can Teach Us About Cause Marketing

In July, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team defended their title as the world’s best women’s soccer team in the 2019 FIFA World Cup tournament. Their victory on the global stage is a source of pride for the United States and the women’s soccer community.

Despite their continuous success, the women of U.S. Soccer still fight for respect off the field. As discovered by the Washington Post, the U.S. Soccer Federation pays the women’s team about 11% less than it pays its male soccer players (source). Earlier this year, the women’s team sued the U.S. Soccer Federation over this pay gap.

This lawsuit, along with the World Cup victory, sparked a nationwide conversation about unequal compensation and gender discrimination. Many Americans, soccer fans and otherwise, voiced their frustration on this issue.

Enter two brands: Adidas and LUNA Bar.

In March, athletic-wear company Adidas announced that it would be paying its sponsored athletes on the women’s national team the same performance bonus payout that it pays male champions (source).

Just a few weeks later, LUNA Bar, a brand of Clif Bar & Company, announced that they would be donating over $700,000 to the U.S Women’s National Soccer Team, enough to close the pay gap between the women’s and men’s teams (source).

These actions garnered Adidas and LUNA significant press coverage and social media buzz. Sports enthusiasts and advocates alike praised the two companies for standing with the female athletes.

It can be safe to say that these companies’ campaigns were successful. Here’s what we can learn:

It’s important to take a stand…

In 2019, the relationship between a consumer and a brand is more important than ever. People don’t just want brands they can trust, but brands that they can believe in. Cause marketing aligns the brand’s values with the consumer’s values.

BUT pick the right cause.

Adidas and LUNA Bar did not choose to support the women’s soccer team randomly. Adidas, a fitness product brand, and LUNA Bar, a health food brand, both have a long history of supporting athletics. LUNA also has supported women’s causes in the past. 

If you want your business to associate with a particular initiative, you should have a clear reason WHY – something that goes past increasing sales. Consumers want social responsibility, but they also want authenticity. If you choose an issue that doesn’t track with your brand, you run the risk of appearing manufactured and/or insensitive.

The case of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team is a great example of how brands can “join the conversation” and engage their customers.

If you have marketing concerns, AFFIRM is here to help! Contact us for more info.

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