After 50+ Days on the Ground—Thoughts on the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ 2023 Fan Experience & Why Brands Should Take Note Now
- Jul 24, 2023
This year has been unlike any other personally and professionally, in large part due to the incredible opportunity I have leading the GMR team activating the FIFA Women’s World Cup Trophy Tour, culminating in a trip to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
It’s given our team, including fellow GMR FC member Andy Black and I, a front-row look at the fan experience surrounding a FIFA Women’s World Cup that is establishing an incredible number of firsts that emphasize the growth of the women’s game, including:
- This is the first FIFA Women’s World Cup taking place in more than one nation;
- The first in the Southern Hemisphere;
- The first with Fan Festivals;
- And the first with 32 teams.
Over the last 56 days, between Andy and I, we’ve visited all 9 Host Cities. With that unique perspective, there are a few things we think are shaping the fan experience the most.
What’s impacting the fan experience
Somewhere around 50% of any given World Cup attendance will come from in-country, local fans, which is why Andy and I were working alongside our client FIFA, traveling around Australia and New Zealand drumming up excitement on the FIFA Women’s World Cup Trophy Tour.
For fans traveling to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the airports have special FIFA access lines for those with tickets or accreditations, and, as mentioned above, there are FIFA Fan Festivals at all nine host cities.
This is a giant step forward in the investment in women’s sport and in the on-site fan experience. Each FIFA Fan Festival is a bespoke experience centered on the culture of the Host City’s local region, while also giving fans an opportunity to watch matches from other Host Cities and a place to connect and experience the FIFA Women’s World Cup, bringing World Cup Fever to life.
Finally, the Host Cities want to show off. They want to encourage tourism and showcase the unique elements that make up the Host City—from dynamic vistas to regional wildlife to the true Australian or New Zealand culture—the experiences are incredible and once in-a-lifetime for most.
The most visible form of cultural representation fans will find in both host nations is the inclusion of the historical and diverse people of the countries. In Australia this comes from the 20,000-year-old Aboriginal countries that include over a thousand different languages and over 250 Mobs. In New Zealand, the Mana Whenua, made up of local Iwi, are incredibly important for the country and visible everywhere you go. Fans will and are experiencing this culture in a variety of intentional ways: through local signage that include English and local-language translations; “Welcome to Country” ceremonies, which provide respect to the local Mob or Mana Whenua; some may even experience a traditional Australian smoking ceremony, which is meant to cleanse and ward off bad spirits from the ancestors and the land.
For those watching at home, the match schedule will be tricky in terms of start times, as FIFA seeks to maximize viewership for those countries that have extreme day/night time differences from Australia and New Zealand. Keep an eye on the schedule a few days in advance so you don’t miss any action from your favorite countries!
Learnings for brands thus far…
Respecting the local culture. Cultural heritage and education is a huge part of the fan experience, and also a large consideration for brands. At the most fundamental level, brands activating in culturally-rich locations need to understand the nuances to ensure they are respected.
Brands also need to have a local-to-global approach; meaning, while a multi-nation global event calls for a high level of cultural awareness by brands, it also comes with high rewards. This gives brands an opportunity to hyper localize or globalize. They have the opportunity to create different experiences in each area with a lens for the culture. Brands watching this FIFA Women’s World Cup play out have the chance to learn from this case study in real time as they consider activating in the future across multi-nation events.
Promotion is key
Get that sponsorship awareness uplifted. Promote, promote, promote, on all products, services, ad campaigns and wherever possible that align to the strategy. With a multi-nation global event that spans across so many host cities, the audience is huge and the impact on your brand can be even greater. Raise awareness of the tournament and your brand’s involvement early and often.