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How brands are marking Title IX turning 50

Brands are embracing the 50th anniversary of Title 50 by working to advance equality for women in sports and beyond.

5 min read

Brands & CampaignsMarketing

Title IX: woman playing soccer

Jeffrey F Lin/Unsplash

Title IX, the 1972 law prohibiting sex-based discrimination, turned 50 on June 23 and some brands are celebrating the anniversary to highlight the legislation’s effect on women’s sports and to draw attention to the gender equality work that still needs to be done. 

Getty Images release campaign, report

Getty Images marked the anniversary by releasing a white paper on equal gender representation in sports advertising and marketing, accompanied by a video and interactive experience created by AlmapBBDO. The film shows pivotal moments in female sports since 1972 and an interactive timeline allows viewers to explore those moments. 

The white paper, which combines research from Getty Images’ VisualGPS and analysis by the Women’s Sports Foundation, offers several key findings:

  • Media companies are 33 times more likely to share stories about male athletes than female ones.
  • 69% of consumers agree that ‘Women athletes are just as capable as men but not given the same funding, training and coaching opportunities.”
  • 32% of girls report being made fun of or made uncomfortable by boys when playing sports. 

“Not only do people desire more inclusive depictions of women and girls sports, but they want brands and organizations to support female sports in a way that’s equitable and authentic,” said Tristen Norman, head of creative insights for the Americas at Getty Images, in a press release. 

Ally invests in women’s sports media

Ally unveiled a “Watch the Game, Change the Game” campaign from Anomaly and Activista Los Angeles that’s running across TV, social and digital and aims to increase viewership of women’s sports. An anthem 60-second spot shows female athletes performing in their fields and explaining how they’re better supported when people watch them play. The ad ends with the copy, “Ally is committed to equal investment in women’s sports media.”

The financial brand has pledged to reach equal investment in paid advertising for men’s and women’s sports within the next five years.

“We know investing in women’s sports offers outsized returns for our business when it comes to growing brand affinity and love, and the push for equity and parity in sports elevates all of us,” said Andrea Brimmer, chief marketing and public relations officer for Ally, in a press release. “We want to create change, and our pledge is an example of putting actions over words, and we hope other brands follow,” Brimmer added. 

Bumble signs female college athletes

Image credit: Bumble/YouTube

Dating app Bumble created a “50for50” initiative, signing 50 women college athletes to name, image and likeness deals. The female athletes will feature in campaigns, events and be brand ambassadors on their college campuses and it was important to the brand that they were selected “across a variety of sports, from state colleges to HBCUs, and that represented diverse backgrounds and experiences,” Bumble’s Christina Hardy told Forbes

“These sponsorships are an exciting step in empowering and spotlighting a diverse range of some of the most remarkable collegiate women athletes from across the country. Athletes who work just as hard as their male counterparts, and should be seen and heard,” Hardy added. 

Why marketers should invest in women’s sports

Christine Franklin, executive vice president of marketing and sponsorships at Octagon, writes in this article for Sportico about why brand support for women’s sports isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the only thing that makes business sense as audiences have exploded and female sports stars have become cultural icons. 

Fans of women’s sports are a “tech-savvy community, willing to engage with brands authentically connecting to women’s sports, and they are more likely to listen to new messages from brands that support their passions,” Franklin writes.

We can’t talk Title IX and not about Roe v. Wade

It seems impossible to explore Title IX and how brands are supporting gender equality in sports marketing and advertising without referencing the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn of Roe v. Wade on Friday. 

Brands, with a few exceptions, have largely been reticent on the matter apart from detailing health care policies, The New York Times reports. But women in sports and sports associations have been speaking out.

“This ruling provides a treacherous pathway to abortion bans that reinforce economic, social and political inequalities and could lead to higher rates of maternal mortality while eviscerating rights to reproductive freedom for everyone,” stated the WNBA players association, as reported by CBC

The NBA tweeted the following statement: “The NBA and WNBA believe that women should be able to make their own decisions concerning their health and future, and we believe that freedom should be protected.”

“It’s hard to put into words how sad a day this is for me personally, for my teammates, for just all of the people out there this is going to affect,” Megan Rapinoe said in a press conference reported by Sports Illustrated. “Pro-Choice allows other people to be pro-life if that is what works for them, or that is what their beliefs are, or if that is where they’re at in their life. Pro-life doesn’t allow anybody to make a choice,” Rapinoe said. 

Around 71% of Americans think abortion decisions should be made by women and doctors, not regulated by government, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, while a Pew Research Center survey conducted this March found 61% of American adults believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases. 

When the majority of Americans believe in abortion rights, and female athletes are outspoken about the detrimental effect of the Roe v. Wade decision, it may be riskier for brands investing in women’s sports to stay silent than speak out. 

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Related Title IX articles:

Extra Credit: Views on Title IX; ideas for transforming education

Rebooting Title IX: The view of a plaintiff in Alexander v. Yale