One of the amusing aspects of being an old guy is reading breathless articles about some new breakthrough in the history of human thought, such as this New York Times article about how this lone marketing genius has noticed for the first time ever that women spend a lot of money and therefore big corporations might want to sign women athletes as endorsers.
By Kevin Draper, July 11, 2019
Trying to take advantage of the ascendance of female athletes and the popularity of the most recent Women’s World Cup champions, one of the country’s leading sports agencies is forming a new division to work with companies to market to women through sports.
The sports and talent agency Wasserman, which represents more than half the members of the United States women’s national team, including Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, will announce on Thursday that it is creating the Collective, a unit whose goal is to connect major companies, consumers and fans of every gender with some of the country’s best-known female athletes.
“We believe there is a significant opportunity for the athletes to attract meaningfully more marketing engagement and awareness and dollars,” Casey Wasserman, the company’s founder, said in an interview last week.
Hundreds of thousands of fans turned out on Wednesday to celebrate the women’s soccer team in New York, where team members and fans chanted “equal pay” together, highlighting how closely the team has connected itself to the business of its sport.
… Women were typecast as supporting players for sports fans and not as fans in their own right.
But Lindsey said she believes that is changing because of the power of female consumers. “They control the purse strings,” she said.
What a brilliant breakthrough insight. Why didn’t anybody ever notice that before?
… Rapinoe is one of a growing number of female American athletes who have become stars and who in many cases outshine their male counterparts. Morgan and Rapinoe are better known than most of the men’s national soccer team, and American women regularly win more Olympic medals than American men. In sports like tennis, running and gymnastics, the most famous American athletes are women.
In addition to running his company, Casey Wasserman is the chairman of L.A. 2028, the local organizing committee for the 2028 Olympics. In that capacity, he will be a part of the entity that is selling advertising for the United States Olympic Committee and for the three Olympics preceding 2028 as well. He said there was no conflict of interest between representing and selling L.A. 2028 and representing potential Olympic athletes and securing sponsorships for them through efforts like the Collective.
Men and women “care equally about sports; they just consume it in different ways for different reasons,” Lindsey said. To figure out what those reasons are, she said, just ask them.
“The best way to talk to women is to talk to women,” she said.
What a breakthrough concept: doing marketing research!
Lindsey said competition within this segment of the market could grow quickly, which is something she and colleagues welcomed. “I hope more people pay attention to this,” she said. “I hope people realize what a valuable demographic this audience is.”
I worked in market research from 1982-2000, so if only it had dawned on the marketing industry back then that women control the pursestrings!
Anyway, who was the most popular woman athlete in American history? I can’t find any figures for endorsements adjusted for the era.
Perhaps this is just my age, but my guess would be that number one in popularity for combining A) accomplishments over a sizable span of years in B) a big sport during C) a peak era for the sport, and being D) American and E) nice-looking and F) heterosexual would be … Chris Evert.
In the history of winning women’s tennis major championships, Evert is tied for 5th with her arch-rival Martina Navratilova with 18 majors, behind Margaret Court (24), Serena Williams (23), Steffi Graf (22), Helen Wills Moody (19), and well ahead of Billie Jean King (12).
Evert’s major championships stretched from 1974-1986, which was a prime era in American tennis history. Unlike golf, where the major championships were “open” to professionals and amateurs, the big tennis tournaments like Wimbledon and the US Open had barred professionals until 1968. So the best players, such as Rod Laver, were relegated to a small pro tour. The beginning of the Open Era quickly led to a boom in the 1970s as all the best players were finally in all the best tournaments.