Sponsor Insights

Women In Sports 2022

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Alex Morgan is the Most Endorsed Female Athlete of 2022 

Brand deals across women’s sports have increased 20% year-over-year

SponsorUnited’s inaugural Women In Sports 2022 report analyzes brand partnerships for both collegiate and professional sports across teams and individual athletes. 

The report found that 3,500 brands bought a total of 5,650 sponsorships or media across 14 professional women’s leagues and collegiate NIL athletes. It also revealed that 1,110 brands bought a total of 2,185 sponsorships or media across individual professional and college female athletes. 

“While women’s sports have always faced a variety of disparities in the industry, their ability to win over audiences and drive an exceptionally high level of engagement for brands is undeniable,” said Bob Lynch, CEO and founder of SponsorUnited. “In recent years, attendance, viewership and social engagement for women’s sports and athletes has spiked, leading to long-overdue financial backing through investments and sponsorships that are visibly paying off and should only continue to accelerate.”

Key findings include: 

Alex Morgan is the most endorsed female athlete of the year
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) player scored 27 brand deals in 2022, which is more deals than any NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS or NHL athlete. Morgan leapfrogged over Ali Krieger, Serena Williams and Naomi Oasaka, the top three most endorsed female athletes in 2021. She has partnerships with Coca-Cola, Google, Chipotle, Michelob Ultra and AT&T, among others. 

Partnership deals across women’s sports have increased 20% year-over-year
Sponsorships with women grew 20% year-over-year across the major US sports (LPGA, NWSL, WNBA, WTA), top European soccer leagues (Women’s Super League and Liga F), and  Big Bash League, AFL, NRL Telstra Premiership, Netball Superleague, Suncorp Super Netball and World Netball. Finance brands–which are already the most active sponsorship category among women’s sports–upped their sponsorship game by 30%, followed by Apparel & Accessories and Media to round out the top-three brand verticals.

Women’s golf outnumbers all other women’s sports for brand deals
With 940 brand deals in 2022, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) saw a 30% increase in deals from the previous year and an 18% increase in new brand partnerships. Notable partnerships include Coca-Cola, Rolex and Epson. The LPGA held a 17-deal lead over the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), which had 923 deals in 2022, followed by the National Women’s Soccer League, which had 496 deals. 

Nike is the #1 sponsor for both professional and collegiate sports
Nike has sponsorships with the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), NWSL, Women’s Big Bash League (Cricket), Netball and the LPGA, and with more than 60 athletes. Nike also sponsors five collegiate athletes and partners with 68 colleges. Trailing Nike is Adidas, the second top brand partner for both professional and collegiate sports. 

Laver Cup | Activations

The 2022 Laver Cup was held over the weekend at O2 Arena in London, England.

ROLEX, the founding parter of the Cup, along with Mercedes-Benz AGHEAD & UPS were some of the brands activating during the tournament.

Roger Federer & Serena Williams Endorsements

While the storied careers of Roger Federer and Serena Williams–two of the best tennis players in the sport’s history–have just come to an end, both athletes are primed to continue their successful sponsorship careers off the court.

With over 34M total followers each on social media, Williams is the most popular female tennis player across social media, while Federer’s following ranks second behind Rafael Nadal. Though both were wrapping up their careers, Williams’ followers increased 7% in the last 12 months, and Federer’s following grew by 3%. This year alone, Williams and Federer have 4 of the top 5 social posts (2 each) across pro tennis players, ranked by total engagement.

Both athletes will almost certainly continue to leverage their powerful social platforms for brand partnerships. Williams’ 19 deals–among them Gatorade, Nike, Ubrelvy, Audemars Piguet, and Berlei–include 65 social posts, with total engagement (likes/comments/shares) of over 6M, averaging more than 324K per brand and 82K per post. Since 2020, Williams’ sponsored posts have averaged a total engagement of over 11M per year.

Racket Sport athletes have seen a total social engagement of more than 80M this year. Over 550 brands currently utilize these athletes in campaigns, with each brand garnering average engagement of over 140K per campaign.

While Federer’s sponsored posts since 2020 have averaged a significantly lesser total engagement of 1.4M per year, he’s focused on other promotional avenues over social media. Federer–who has the most deals among men’s tennis players by a significant margin over Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray–has starred in more than 8 commercials or marketing campaigns with brands including Rolex, On-Running, Uniqlo, and Switzerland Tourism, amongst others.

U.S. Open Sponsorship Recap

SponsorUnited had courtside seats for the first day of the U.S. Open, when a slew of fans–and brands–descended on the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center for the celebrated two-week event.

This year, Cadillac replaced Mercedes-Benz as the elite tournament’s official vehicle, a long-term agreement that was announced in mid-August. The American carmaker’s presence was felt from the start, thanks to the fleet of vehicles that transport players and staff around New York during the two weeks of play stationed outside the tournament complex.

Inside the tennis center, Cadillac’s sponsorship gives the brand net signage on all 17 tournament courts at the Open, including practice courts and the match courts seen on ESPN, the event’s broadcast partner.

Located directly next to Arthur Ashe Stadium–the tournament’s premier venue–the Cadillac Pavilion features an immersive experience for fans that showcases the brand’s plans to be fully electric powered by the end of this decade, as well as its new electric SUV, the Lyriq, onsite for visitors to ogle. Along with the pavilion activation, Cadillac placed another Lyriq vehicle next to the practice courts for passers-by to peruse.

Another marquee sponsor, JP Morgan Chase, enjoyed pride of place at the Open with its Chase Lounge, located near the center’s entrance and exclusively accessible to cardholders.

American Express, a partner of the U.S. Open since 1994, is also making a splash with its Amex Fan Experience venue. Activations include glow tennis–a virtual game where fans volley a neon ball back and forth on a digital court–tennis-themed nail art, and a cardholder-only lounge where fans can enjoy refreshments while charging their devices. The venue also features a mini tennis court, a tennis-ball version of Connect 4, and a claw machine where skillful fans can win an Amex radio to listen to the tournament matches on ESPN. 

Other brands are showcasing an array of predominantly tech-driven activations alongside the non-stadium courts. Wilson Sporting Goods’ virtual reality activation allows fans to don a headset that inserts them into a tennis match, while CHUBB sponsors a game where they pick up a racquet to “hit” a virtual ball that splatters virtual paint across a screen. Meanwhile, Chase’s outsize activation invites fans to play an array of video games, and also offers a photo opp in a mirrored selfie photo booth. Moderna gives fans the chance to sign a screen and have their signature emailed to them on a selfie, while a U.S. Open campaign, #BeOpen, lets fans use a selfie to create a GIF.

Besides touting its sleek seat design and in-flight leg space with a display and photo opportunity, Emirates Airlines also sponsored the NextGen Kids Zone, which offers a variety of onsite activities for little tennis fans like basketball, hockey, football, soccer and other sports. 

For fatigued fans needing a pick-me-up, IHG Hotels & Resorts offers massages for joining their membership and rewards program.

2022 Citi Open

Nick Kyrgios won Washington’s 2022 Citi Open, his second Citi Open championship in just over three years.

Citi was the title sponsor for this event. Host sponsors included Kastle SystemsEvents DCCityRidgeEmirates and Tennis Channel.

Citi Open

Citi Open pt.2

Wimbledon Activations

Congratulations to Novak Djockovic and Elena Rybakina for taking home the men’s and women’s singles title in the 100th anniversary of Wimbledon at Centre Court.

Take a look at some the unique ways brands activated at the 14 day tournament.

Wimbledon Activation Spotlight

Wimbledon Endorsements

The 135th Wimbledon Championships began today, with many big names competing in the largest tennis event of the year.

We highlight the endorsement deals for the top two seeds in both Men’s and Women’s singles.

History In The Making at Roland Garros

Roland Garros 2022 was not a tournament to be missed, but if you did you heard about it. Not only did Rafael Nadal win his 22nd Grand Slam title (which cements him as the greatest winner of all time), Iga Świątek continues her unbeaten streak of 35 wins consecutively and became the new number one women’s tennis player in the world.

The official sponsors of the event reaped the benefit of these history-making moments as all eyes were on the players and surrounding tournament signage. The brands making the biggest impression through the tournament were BNP Paribas, Emirates, Lacoste, Renault, Wilson, Oppo, Perrier, Rolex, Engie and Infosys.

On the athlete endorsements side, Nadal has over 44M followers on social media that over 11 brands have the privilege of leveraging. His partnerships provide a voice to brands like Babolat, Nike, Kia, Telefonica, Amstel Ultra, and Richard Mille, among others.

Nadal’s highest engaged posts were for these brand partners:

  • Kia: 635K
  • Telefonica: 470K
  • Amstel Ultra: 440K
  • Cantabria Labs: 260K
  • Babolat: 99K

Within the women’s bracket, the Polish Iga Świątek has agreements with PZU Group, Tecnifibre, Asics, Rolex and Xiaomi. Iga also has an impressive social following like Nadal and has a total engagement of over 12M across 83 branded posts with five brands. With 10.93% of her audience engaged per post, each brand has received nearly 2.5M likes/comments/shares.