Last weekend marked a huge milestone for Australian sport, when female footy players were finally given the chance to run out in team colours as part of the newly established AFL Women’s competition.
For many years the idea of women’s football was met with a scoff and upturned nose, “I don’t want to see girls kick a footy, that’s men’s business.” But when 1,000 people missed out on seeing the first match between Carlton & Collingwood because there was simply no more space at the ground, it was clear attitudes are a’changing.
Determination and pure grit have gotten women’s football to this ground-breaking place, but communicating the value of AFLW also played a key role in its widespread acceptance. The branding and advertising for AFLW is fresh and positive without being patronising, demonstrating the sheer athleticism of female footy players and the fierce competition they will bring to the hallowed turf.
Beating the Boys in Branding
Back in September the logo for AFLW was unveiled and it blew the current AFL branding out of the water. There are three key aspects of the branding that make it so appealing:
It’s bloody clever Turning the goal posts and goal square from the footy ground into a ‘W’ is an example of the intelligent, modern design that we have come to associate with progressive brands such as AirBnb and SoundCloud. This kind of design-forward image sends a clear message that women deserve a place in the future of footy.
It’s colour scheme isn’t obviously feminine Oh how relieved we are that the branding isn’t pink. The hero shade is a bold orangey colour called bittersweet, a fitting analogy for the tough yet exhilarating sport that is AFL. Moving away from the red, blue and white hues in the original AFL logo also helps forge a new path for AFLW, offering a fresh take on the sport but with no less grunt.
- It’s tagline sparks curiosity For all those who scoffed at AFLW and those were on the fence the tagline, ‘See What We Create’, simply tempts them to give it a go. It acknowledges that their league will not be a carbon copy of the current league, but will offer something new that will add to spectator’s love of the sport.
Power of Positive Advertising
Showing footy fans that women’s football was something worth watching was a challenge tackled head-on. The campaign was centred around a video advertisement that took a phrase commonly uttered whenever women’s football was mentioned — “Who’d want to watch that?” — and demonstrated just how many people are yearning to see women run out onto the turf.
Prominent sporting personalities such as Michelle Payne, Cathy Freeman and Nathan Jones share the reasons they’re most excited about the league, followed by the line, “I’d like to see that.” The ad is a remake of an AFL ad from the mid 1990s, connecting this new generation with the sport’s long history.
By highlighting the unique value that women will add to AFL, the ad was able to change popular opinion and the associations that people made with women’s football. It was quickly seen as an event to be celebrated and one that you’d be silly to miss. Hence the hoards of crowds that were busting down the doors to see the first bounce, eager to be a part of history.
Design is the Difference
We’ve long advocated for the power design holds to shape the perception and performance of businesses. The way it helped AFLW gather attention and support is a solid example of how communication tools such as branding and advertising can sway behaviour.
AFLW deserves the big crowds it is drawing and we’re proud that design is playing a role in getting those butts in seats.