When Frito-Lay North America announced a partnership with FIFA to become the “Official USA Snack” of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, it became the company’s biggest ever investment in women’s sports.
The push for women’s soccer builds on Frito-Lay’s campaign for the 2022 baseball season, which relaunched the iconic “Cracker Jack” as “Cracker Jill.” The brand also pledged $200,000 to the Women’s Sports Foundation and encouraged fans to donate by offering a special edition “Cracker Jill” bag in return.
These are more than just marketing activities. It’s smart, strategic public relations. Audiences want truth beyond words. Don’t just say what you believe, show it. Through purposeful actions, Frito-Lay communicates what we value as an organization.
As public relations professionals, we love using words and images to convey messages and tell good stories. With the media landscape changing and traditional coverage dwindling through press releases and press conferences, sports sponsorships are a powerful way to communicate key brand messages in a meaningful way. .
Women’s sport isn’t just having a cultural moment. Leagues, teams and players are proving their worth in the world of business and marketing. Investing in women’s sports is no longer considered a good thing, but it is considered a smart strategy if done with intention.
You don’t have to be a giant like Frito-Lay to join this movement.
There’s a girls’ team in your backyard too. Organizations should view these partnerships as an opportunity to communicate their priorities, engage with their communities, and build credibility.
Here are three reasons to focus on local women’s sports as part of your PR mix:
Live your values locally. Perhaps diversity, equity and inclusion are part of your company’s mission and vision. Investing in women’s sports is one way to not only communicate but show what you believe in.
Consider also that women’s teams and leagues often operate under a purpose-driven business model. This includes gender equality, but also extends to other important areas of community building and social justice issues, from volunteering in schools and neighborhood sports programs to addressing youth mental health.
Build credibility. Who wouldn’t want to sponsor the Women’s World Cup? But if you’ve never been a supporter of women’s sports, jumping to the top level or only participating in big events (even local events) won’t be accepted by your audience. They may even see it as performative and undermining the message you’re trying to convey.
Fans, especially fans of women’s sports, want credibility in partnerships between brands and their sports teams. By participating at the grassroots level, you can communicate that you are participating for the right reasons.
Inspire your creativity! Women’s sports have traditionally been more flexible with customized sponsorships. Businesses can be creative, from harnessing technology to grassroots efforts to tackle important issues like access to sports and educational opportunities.
We have implemented this approach at The Martin Group, an integrated marketing and communications company headquartered in Buffalo, NY with offices throughout the state. The agency has partnered with FC Buffalo, a local soccer club with high-level semi-professional women’s and men’s teams.
On the soccer pitch, the Martin Group is the official uniform sponsor of FC Buffalo, increasing its visibility with its loyal fan base. Off the pitch, the agency offers in-kind PR support.
This partnership gives The Martin Group the means to authentically and creatively put into practice its credo ‘The Difference Is Making One’. FC Buffalo is committed to participating in the community and providing equitable resources for operations. We show that those values are important to us as well.
Other companies can also use this handbook to localize their investments in women’s sports and communicate their corporate values beyond the X and O of traditional PR tactics.
Amy Moritz is public relations manager for The Martin Group and author of the agency’s blog series, She’s Got Next, featuring conversations with women in sports and sports-related careers.