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Volume 23 No. 29
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Women's World Cup readies $21 million advertising blitz

The Women's World Cup is set to kick off a $21 million media and advertising blitz to fuel interest in what is already the biggest ever women's sporting event.

The Women's World Cup, which will run June 19-July 10 in eight U.S. cities, has already sold more than 350,000 tickets, exceeding organizers' expectations, said Marla Messing, president of the event. The previous attendance record for a women-only event was a little more than 300,000 for the women's NCAA basketball tournament.

"When I first wrote the business plan, I thought we would sell about 312,000, which would make us the largest women's-only event in history," Messing said.

In the next few weeks the Women's World Cup and its sponsors and media partners, which include Allstate Insurance Co., Coca-Cola Co. and Adidas, are expected to spend more than $21 million on advertising and marketing.

"You will see the real push in mid-May and through the last four weeks" leading up to the opening game at Giants Stadium, she said.

Sponsorships account for about $6 million of a budget expected to be $25 million to $30 million, Messing said. Licensed merchandise is expected to generate $1 million to $2 million, but the final budget will depend on the number of tickets sold, she said.

Messing projects total attendance at about 475,000, which would raise about $21 million in ticket revenue, based on an average ticket price of $45.

The event has the potential to be a "real breakthrough" for both women's sports and soccer, said Sue Rodin, an agent who represents U.S. team members Julie Foudy, Carla Overbeck and Tiffany Roberts.

Unlike their male soccer team counterparts, the women have a real shot at winning the international tournament.

David Bober, agent for star Mia Hamm, said the event could do for soccer what Peggy Fleming did for ice skating and Mary Lou Retton did for gymnastics.

Success in the World Cup could get some of the lesser-known female team members endorsement contracts, he said.

Hamm, who will have a building named after her on Nike Inc.'s corporate campus, already has some choice endorsement deals, including a series of Gatorade commercials with Michael Jordan.