Avon's shirt sponsorship with Liverpool FC women's team represents an evolution in female sports marketing

Avon has become the first female-focused brand to sponsor a women’s professional football club after agreeing a shirt sponsorship deal with Liverpool FC's ladies team.

The three-year partnership sees the cosmetic and beauty brand replace Standard Chartered as the Liverpool Ladies Football Club (LLFC) front of kit sponsor and marks the first time that the ladies squad have had their own shirt deal independent of the men’s team.

The team will wear the new Avon sponsored kits for the first time when their Women’s Super League Spring Series campaign kicks-off against Yeovil Town Ladies on 23 April.

“Avon is an iconic women’s brand with a rich history and shares the same core values as Liverpool Ladies Football Club,” said the club’s managing director and chief commercial officer Billy Hogan.

Andrea Slater, general manager of Avon UK, said the brand’s purpose of trying to “inspire and create a world with more empowered women” would be reflected in its partnership with the Liverpool women’s team.

“This sponsorship aims to inspire women all over the world to drive real change in women’s football – breaking down social barriers, challenging stereotypes, and empowering young girls and women to play the sport that they love,” said Slater.

“This sponsorship is another stride forward in our support for women and one that we’re approaching with whole hearted commitment as we embark on this new and exciting venture together. The teams and professionals we have spoken to on this journey are truly inspirational women, working together to achieve their goals, and we are very excited to be sponsoring Liverpool Ladies Football Club and supporting the women through all of their future successes.”

Avon’s decision to partner exclusively with the women’s team represents a much-needed change within the relatively untapped realm of women’s sports sponsorships. Applying a catch-all template to shirt deals where the male and female teams share the same sponsor is a missed opportunity for brands looking to inspire and engage with female audiences.

SSE appear to have recognised this opportunity having invested in becoming the title sponsor of the women's FA cup, a move which its head of sponsorship, Colin Banks, said was intended to apply the company's diversity and equality drive to its sports sponsorship portfolio.

The Spring Series is a one-off transitional football tournament intended to facilitate the league’s switch from a summer to winter calendar for the 2017/18 season. The Liverpool women’s team and Avon will likely see greater audience numbers for the tournament after the BBC picked up the broadcast rights. In addition to the BBC’s coverage, clubs are also being permitted to live-stream their games through their own digital platforms.

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Tony Connelly

I cover media, marketing and sponsorship news within the sports industry. This includes breaking news as well as writing feature pieces with insights from experts in the sports marketing world.

All by Tony