Coca-Cola used the sport of football to entertain and connect with fans on a level never before attempted in the Arab world. Coke created the first-ever Arab all-female football commentary crew to broadcast a live match during the Asian Football Cup tournament. Coca-Cola was able to smash the stereotype of women as superficial football fans with limited game knowledge, while providing a more inclusive entertainment experience for everyone.
Females in the Middle East are currently battling for equal rights across several fronts. Despite some recent progress, certain areas of Arab society remain off limits to women. One of these is the sport of football. Even though female fans number in the millions, females have traditionally been excluded from the football experience. In fact, prior to this tournament, no females have ever even been allowed in an Arab-language broadcast booth; leaving women feeling excluded from the sport they love.
As part of their affiliation with the recent Asian Football Cup (AFC) tournament, Coke wanted to engage with football fans in a way that would 1) smash conventional gender roles in the region and 2) provide a more inclusive experience that would bring together both male and female fans.
Describe the creative idea.
Coca-Cola brought together female influencers from the worlds of football and pop culture to create the Arab world’s first all-female football commentary crew. This was a different kind of broadcast. One that was more engaging, more human and more inclusive than traditional football broadcasts. Our team provided live play-by-play, analysis, stats and storylines for a full 90 minutes of live game coverage during the Asian Football Cup match between Saudi Arabia and Japan.
Describe the strategy
We wanted to communicate Coca-Cola’s brand purpose of togetherness to our female target in a region where female empowerment is beginning to get the attention that it deserves.
Research showed us that during major football tournaments, men stick to the television screens; ignoring all else. The match broadcasts themselves are tailored exclusively to men. This creates a disconnect for female football fans with the game they love. Women are excluded.
Social media data told us something remarkable. Despite being excluded, female fans across the region showed increased interest in football – up 56% over average. Women clearly wanted to be part of the conversation when it comes to large tournaments.
Describe the execution
The broadcast was streamed live simultaneously across 5 platforms, so people could choose whether to watch our broadcast or use it as an audio simulcast for the televised match. In order to project a feeling of professionalism and legitimacy, we created a studio in the mold of other high-end live sports production facilities. We partnered with Sport 360 – the region’s leading sports publication company. We provided live commentary for the AFC Saudi-Japan elimination match.
Postgame recaps for 3 other Arab-nation elimination games were also streamed.
Describe the outcome
Female Share of Voice in the AFC online increased 85% during the live stream broadcast.
During the live broadcast, the tenor of the comment section was sadly predictable. Women were thrilled to finally have a voice. Men were not so happy. Many of them were viciously sexist in their comments.
Post-match, the program gained traction in the regional Arab press for its disruption of the male status quo in football. beIN Sports, the region’s leading sports TV network, is currently in negotiations with Coca-Cola to create a weekly all-female football panel discussion program – potentially giving a voice to millions of female football fans throughout the Arab world.
Beyond mere entertainment, this became a paradigm shift regarding the role of Arab women in sports.