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The FA Announces Lionesses France 2019 Squad Announced in Style

Chris McMullan - 10th May 2019 - 0 comments

The Women’s World Cup in France is a mere 26 days away and England’s much anticipated squad has finally been announced. But rather than just do the traditional announcement of the 23 players flying to France, the Lionesses chose to enlist a bit more help.

Bringing in a list of A-list celebrities including athletes, celebrities and royalty to help with the squad announcement is the FA’s attempt to stir up World Cup fever.

Those celebrities who were selected vary right across industries ranging from radio, with Greg James announcing Toni Duggan’s inclusion, to fellow England legend David Beckham announcing Nikita Parris as the squad’s iconic no.7.

The momentum behind the women’s game is nowhere near the same as it is behind the men’s, but the FA are trying their best to build it ahead of what could be a crucial summer for sport.

The Duke of Cambridge had the privilege of announcing the first player, captain Steph Houghton. He congratulated her on her inclusion and wished her and the rest of the squad the best of luck in France. This style was replicated by the other videos, featuring the likes of Ellie Goulding, Emma Watson and Jamal Edwards.

This campaign bore a resemblance to the FA’s campaign for the men’s team ahead of the 2018 World Cup. The Lions were announced by young people from the corresponding player’s hometown to make the team seem more approachable, something further hammered home with the increased media access afforded by the players in the Lions’ Den YouTube series.

Approachability is not an issue the Lionesses have though: the WSL is advertised as a day out for families and players are not the huge celebrities that Premier League stars have become. Instead, the Lionesses’ have an issue that is perfectly summarised by Phil Neville, who stressed that ‘We have to make these players visible, we want everybody around the world to buy in to what will be the biggest Women’s World Cup of all time’. For the previous World Cup the FA wanted to increase the popularity of the game as a participation sport. Now it’s about raising the celebrity of the players and growing the women’s game as a spectator sport.

By combining the name of one of the players with an already established individual, it makes them more memorable. After all, this is essentially a marketing campaign, and the product – the England Women’s team – will have more awareness if it’s endorsed by influencers or stars. That is a tried and tested tactic to help any brand to grow. Combined, the 23 chosen celebrities have a potential reach of over 219million on both Instagram and Twitter; a figure that dwarfs the Lionesses 193.9K across both.

The Lionesses will surely be able to use the celebrities’ profiles to create momentum for the World Cup and, combined with good performances, use them as a springboard for increasing the celebrity status of the players and professionalisation of the women’s game.

As much as this campaign is perfect for now, the hope is that future campaigns do not require celebrities to create momentum for players. Instead, their profile alone creates the momentum for the game, tournament and Lionesses’ themselves.

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