The Women’s World Cup: Where's the chatter?

With just days to go until the Women’s World Cup Dark Horses’ Eve De Haan calls for more conversation and coverage

Eve De Haan

Creative Dark Horses


Just a few days to go until the most hotly anticipated Women’s World Cup in the history of the sport. But with the clock ticking down, where's the chatter?

After a rip-roaring few months, it's excessively covered ground that women’s football is at a height never seen before (bar perhaps, before it was banned in 1921). The 2019 World Cup, won for the second time on the trot by the USWNT, was then eclipsed by EURO 2022, with the masterclass of European talent exhibiting the prowess that these athletes show week in, week out across the top flights of women’s football. Since then, the game has seen record-breaking transfer fees, Vogue covers, sell out Champions League games, and of course the conquering of the jungle. The WSL’s attendance rate has increased by 173% from the previous season, with other European leagues following suit. As such, it's firmly believed that the 2023 WWC will be the biggest and greatest tournament in the sport’s history to date.

So with the most exciting tournament only days away, why is no one talking about it? Of course, writing this in my London bubble is important to note - the tournament being hosted in an Antipodean home means early morning matches here, a time slot difficult to get excited about compared to the late afternoon and post-work games that got the country on its feet last summer. Regardless, with the Lionesses going in as European champions and a favourite of many to win the whole thing, it is surprising to have such little buzz as it kicks off.

The lacklustre advertising in conjunction with the vagueness and delay around broadcasting has meant the run up to the Women’s World Cup is without the chatter it deserves.

Eve De Haan, Creative at Dark Horses

We have to look at the fracas around the TV rights to begin with. ITV and the BBC were finally confirmed after months of public argument with FIFA, with Gianni Infantino threatening a media blackout due to low-ball offers. Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan have had similar quarrels, all of which dominated the narrative around the tournament, embarrassingly more than the sport itself. With broadcasters only confirmed in the UK three weeks before kick-off, there’s been delayed promotion in the optimum time to drum up excitement. Fans don’t know where to watch or when to watch, and as such the event seems to have fallen to the back of everyone's minds.

Then there’s the advertising. As predicted, there’s been a plethora of content released ranging from bang on the right tone for where the women’s game is at, to cheesy, patronising takes on the game that definitely break at least one deadly sin of women’s sport marketing.

ITV’s pride of Lionesses prowling through the streets entirely misses the mark. Due to the lateness of their confirmed involvement, the piece feels lazy, predictable and most importantly, entirely lacks the dramatic excitement a tournament this prestigious and global deserves. We want to see some of that bloodthirsty football they showed off last year. On the ‘flip’ side, Nike’s multiple ads scream excitement, in a curated series of smaller films focusing on specific players like Sam Kerr ‘flipping the game’, alongside a hero film calling us to ‘know their names’. Although the idea feels predominantly executional, the buzz it gives you is sometimes all you want from a good World Cup ad.

The earlier released USWNT's ad for Fox Soccer, is a hard watch. Fizzing with excitement, the avalanche of cliches and cheesy tropes comes at you a million miles an hour, but the gauntlet being thrown down by the reigning champions is at least a rallying cry to check your national allegiance and please get your damn England shirt on.

It’s a far cry from Budweiser’s bizarre Messi ad which uses archive footage projected onto shipping containers and the man himself to call on the women to fight for something ‘more than just football’. Although it's nice to see male players involved, it just feels like a Messi ad. With FIFA selling the sponsorship rights as a solo package no longer attached to the men’s game, there were high hopes women’s content would no longer feel like an afterthought. To get excited for this tournament, we need to be made to feel excited. Empowering content about the greater good of women in sport just doesn’t cut it anymore. Plus, can we please just leave projection ideas back in 2014?

Brands were never going to get the narrative 100% right for this tournament, as the mood shifts from empowerment to entertainment. Some have captured the agitative buzz fans feel before the kick off of a World Cup, whilst others have entirely fallen flat. Sadly however, it feels like a lot of it is just lazy, too little, too late, or lacking the trust that the game is as good as it is. The lacklustre advertising in conjunction with the vagueness and delay around broadcasting has meant the run up to the Women’s World Cup is without the chatter it deserves. We’ll just have to wait for the players to burst onto the headlines themselves, as they always do.

Guest Author

Eve De Haan

Creative Dark Horses


Eve De Haan is a Creative and is currently rotating through her football shirt collection at Dark Horses.

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Sport Women World Cup