The England Lionesses as Brand Ambassadors

Disappointment, heart break and possibly a few tears; an historic victory for the Lionesses over Spain in Sunday’s World Cup final was not to be. 

Although the European champions couldn’t add to their 2022 success, the Lionesses progress through the tournament to the final round has further fuelled the discussion around women’s sport and raised the profile of the England squad as one of the hottest targets for prospective investors and sponsors. It has also served to highlight the increasingly stark contrast between the women’s and men’s games where the toxic environment of violence, homophobia and discrimination sadly remains.

Director of talent agency CSM Sport and Entertainment, Tim Lopez, told the Times:

‘There will be instances where brands think, “you know what, we never liked football because it was a bit risqué, it’s laddish”.

‘The women’s game is safer. It’s more wholesome, it’s less tribal, it’s more inclusive.

‘It offers something that actually in some instances male football can’t match.’

Investment in women’s sport

As a result of the steady rise in the profile of female sport, we are seeing some of the biggest global brands turn away from a sole focus on male athletes in favour of females or both together. An example comes from EA Sports as it announced last year that Chelsea and Matildas forward, Sam Kerr, was to be the franchise’s first ever female cover star, joining Kylian Mbappé on the front of FIFA 23 – a game which sold over 10 million copies in its first week. A phenomenal player in her own right, her inclusion in the game will have made her all the more recognisable to FIFA fans tuning in to watch this year’s Women’s World Cup. A massive win for both the player and for EA Sports.

According to a Techcrunch article, the time to invest in women’s sport is now. “Brands that invested early show strong returns in a variety of ways: VISA saw a 27x increase in positive interactions with women’s sports fans via their USWNT partnership. DoorDash (22%), Nike, and Budweiser (11x) experienced similar return on investment (ROI).” Indeed Chloe Kelly’s now iconic celebration following her extra-time goal in the Euros final saw Google searches soar by 1,590% as users looked to get their hands on the Nike Dri-fit Swoosh Sports Bra she was wearing,

InsightX provides risk and reputation analysis for some of the world’s biggest brands, helping them to make informed choices before they sign athlete ambassadors. In light of the Lionesses’ success, we decided to take a look at one of their star players alongside the rest of the England team to identify their personal endorsements and see how the squad’s success has added value for the brands who have invested.

The Lionesses


Lioness’ sponsors

Many PRs predicted that after their Euros win in 2022, the Lionesses would increase their sponsorship value tenfold. While the exact value of these sponsorships is unknown, we can see from the image below the diversity of brands which have aligned themselves with the England squad.

The Lionesses’ appeal means that since their 2022 victory they’ve partnered with high-fashion and luxury goods brands and by going beyond sport has further allowed them to be relevant and popular across the cultural spectrum. Leah Williamson’s partnership with Gucci is one such example. 

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The Lionesses and Nike

Nike began its 12-year deal with the Lionesses back in 2016 when it was the first sportswear manufacturer committed to supplying a bespoke kit for women, as they had been previously forced to play in men’s kit.
On social media, the World Cup has seen significant uplift for Nike as one of the Lionesses’ main partners. In the past 30 days, reach for posts with Nike + Lionesses increased by 2.4K per cent, and engagement was up 8.9K per cent – with the potential to reach 16.1 billion users in total.    

The Lionesses and other sponsors

The graph below shows the other brands which have been associated with the Lionesses on social media in the past 30 days, with Nike and TikTok registering a 12.8K% and 3.3K% increase in visibility respectively. 


In profile: Lauren James

James Boyes / Flickr

England’s star forward, James was recently announced as nominee for the Women’s PFA Young Player of the Year award. The one to watch ahead of the start of the tournament, a moment of madness saw her red carded against Nigeria in the Round of 16, and despite returning for the final, she was unable to replicate the form she found against China in the Group Stage.

But aside from her on-pitch prowess, how does she fare when analysed by InsightX’s team of experts? Below is the summary of their findings:

Social media

The World Cup has raised the profile of all the Lionesses online – the Lionesses’ own Instagram profile hit one million followers during the tournament – and no one more so than James.

In the last 30 days, the total social media posts across all platforms for James increased by 15.5K per cent compared to the previous period. And we can see that these peaked right after her red card on August 7.

James’ potential reach has shot up 3.7K per cent in the past 30 days compared to the previous period and online conversation around the player gathered a potential reach of 144.2 billion.

Brand perspective

James is or has partnered with the likes of Nike, Google Pixel, Optimum Nutrition, Barclays, and Sure. Experts have also suggested that being sent off for stamping on the back of Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie could in fact boost her sponsorship opportunities. 

“I don’t think you would look on that sending off as a negative in the commercial world, Tim Wright, former sports marketing executive with IMG, told inews

“She could overtake every other female footballer in this country from a commercial standpoint very quickly.”

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It would seem that brands associated with the Chelsea forward are also showing an uplift in visibility thanks to their association with James in online discussions around the player.


Lauren James and Nike

Nike football athlete James is also driving visibility for one of her main sponsors; in the last 30 days, there was a 3.6K per cent increase in the reach of posts with James and Nike – equating to a reach of 5.3 billion users, while mentions of the two together surged by 14K per cent.  


At the final whistle…

Not so long ago, it appeared that these big-name brands were going out on a limb to sponsor women’s sport. A token effort, at times even sportwashing. Now the landscape is different. Now, with just a bit more investment, women’s sport has found itself in a whole new era. Women are finally being given the facilities, resources, support and coaching that they deserve and in return, their accomplished performances are earning them and their associated brands the sort of recognition that a couple of years ago one could only dream of. Women’s sport has well and truly landed.