Major League Baseball is back and the NBA is in pre-season. Women’s sports are also getting underway, with less fanfare from the media and advertisers but with a big message.
The WNBA and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) are calling for social justice and gender equality, respectively, as they return from COVID-19 hiatus. And one major advertiser is demanding media companies pay more attention to women’s sports.
The players of the NWSL are pointing out another injustice with an assist from Secret deodorant. The commercial See Me uses some of soccer’s greatest stars to point out that women’s sports receive only 4% of all sports media coverage. The soccer league is calling for the media to double that percentage by the end of 2020.
Secret’s spot aired during Sunday’s NWSL final Challenge Cup match on CBS in which the Houston Dash beat the Chicago Red Stars 2-0. The 30-second commercial features nine players, including Sarah Gorden of the Chicago Red Stars and Katie Stengel, a standout for the Houston Dash. "Equal work. Equal sweat. Equal play" is the parting shot of the ad.
As part of its sponsorship, Secret donated $529,000 to the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association to close the pay gap with the Men’s National Team, along with purchasing and donating 9,000 tickets to NWSL games to boost attendance and revenue.
Secret kicked off its gender-equality campaign this year with Not the First, a powerful spot featuring tennis great Serena Williams praising the women who paved the way for her.
The Procter & Gamble brand brought its ad work in house a year ago, after partnering with Wieden+Kennedy and an interim stint with Berlin, Cameron.
The activism in women’s sports was not limited to pro soccer this weekend. Players from the WNBA’s New York Liberty and Seattle Storm walked off the court this weekend before the national anthem as part of an overarching social justice campaign. The WNBA painted bold Black Lives Matter logos on the hardwood at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where teams are playing in a coronavirus bubble.
The WNBA is dedicating its season to supporting the #SayHerName campaign to uplift Black women in society.
Players’ jerseys are also billboards for social justice, with the name of Breonna Taylor emblazoned on the back. Jersey fronts feature the logo of WNBA national sponsor AT&T, along with team sponsors such as the Mayo Clinic for the Minnesota Lynx and FanDuel for the New York Liberty. The WNBA is a forerunner in the U.S. for allowing sponsor logos on jerseys.