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How licensing is assisting England’s Lionesses

The FA’s licensing partnerships manager, Damian Treece, on why we’re at a tipping point for women’s football.

Without infringing Lionsgate’s SAW intellectual property rights, ‘greetings and welcome, I want to play a game’. I’m going to give you the following brands, and you have to guess the team-sport-event that they’re promoting: Nike, Mars, Budweiser, Lucozade, Head & Shoulders and Boots. The NFL? The Champions League? Roger Federer?

Nope, none of the above in my game. Excitingly, all of these leading consumer brands are in fact partnering with the Lionesses this summer across the 2019 Women’s World Cup (which kicked off on June 7), with a projected £20m being invested in support across retail activations and social campaigns including #justwatchme and #supporther, respectively.

In a first, Nike has developed bespoke England Lionesses kit. While the home kit is a fairly traditional take on the iconic white England kit, it’s the change kit, with its Lioness exclusive dark red and distinctive rose pattern, which has really set alight football media and fans passion for the kits.

In the more traditional licensing space, we’ve also seen a really keen uptake in appetite and activation around the Lionesses. Long standing England licensee and Lionesses early adopters, FOCO, has secured significant space in Tesco this summer for an FSDU unit of fan merchandise including the first Lioness BRXLZ players. Having this range drop outside of a men’s tournament window is really quite unprecedented and a further indication of both the growing force of women’s sport in the public conscience, and the creativity of our licensing partners in the selling process.

Panini worked hard on a number of activations in the lead up to the Women's World Cup.
Panini worked hard on a number of activations in the lead up to the Women's World Cup.

We’ve also been busy adding to the licensee base and are really pleased to be working with Beautiful Game to develop a range of Lionesses wall stickers. The team at Beautiful Game has built up a strong roster of club licences over the past couple of years and it’s great to bring this industry authenticity to the Lionesses programme.

Panini has also been busy in the run up to the World Cup. From developing great social marketing content at St George’s Park with the team, through epic days of sampling at the Women’s FA Cup final and the Lionesses farewell friendly in Brighton, we’ve engaged with tens of thousands of football hungry fans in the run up to the World Cup.

Secondary to this, one of the main barriers to the growth of the women’s game has been both a lack of visibility and opportunity to purchase, embrace and showcase your affinity to the players and the brand. Working with partners like Beautiful Game and Fanatics, who have a direct route to consumer and robust e-commerce platforms, helps remove or alleviate one of those barriers.

Lastly, to quote Lionesses manager, Phil Neville, ‘we’re at a tipping point for Women’s Football’ and nothing exemplifies this more in my mind than the news that all of the Lionesses group games will be broadcast free-to-air on BBC1 this summer. That is truly rarefied air, opening up millions of eyeballs to these hard working, talented athletes.
Be Ready!

This feature originally appeared in the summer 2019 edition of Licensing Source Book. To read the full publication, click on this link.

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