U.S. Soccer recently launched its “BEND THE CURVE. STAY AT HOME” campaign in order to combat the spread of COVID-19 and use the passion and commitment of soccer players across the country to raise awareness of the message.
Recently, U.S. Soccer launched a new phase of the campaign, as the SheBelieves Virtual Network announced it will offer a week of expanded digital programming featuring prominent women, not just athletes. Speakers and workshops address everything from young women building their confidence, preparing for careers, and becoming a leader in the community, and they complement the tools that the SheBelieves Online Academy has available on its website.
On May 18, I attended their first Power Panel focused on advice for young women on how to play through adversity. Hosted by FOX Sports’ Jenny Taft, the panel featured FIFA World Cup Champion Crystal Dunn, USWNT forward Lynn Williams, Paralympian Melissa Stockwell, gold medal water polo player Ashleigh Johnson, and two-time Olympic swimming medalist Abbey Weitzeil discussing how they stay motivated and succeed under pressure. The conversation focused on delivering messages to youth players about how to keep up your spirits and stay prepared during this pandemic, but also how to stay ready for when sports return.
From a brand perspective, the panelists brought up two very interesting opportunities for content creation. The first centers around social media challenges that I’m sure we’ve all seen circulating. The athletes found these as incredibly fun ways to not only interact with their audience, but also their own teammates to build up totally unique skills in their sport. Dunn and Williams mentioned how they send challenges to other USWNT team members as ways to feed that competitive muscle, and the other woman all agreed it’s a great way to keep people connected and engaged. Brands that can engage athletes to cross-create content will not only see a surge of people making UGC, but also making authentic content that the athletes themselves enjoy more than a typical sponsored post.
Second was a concept I hadn’t really thought about but brings a lot of value. Both Johnson and Weitzell noted that this is the longest period in their professional life that they’ve been out of the pool, and they’ve both been making videos of themselves trying (and mostly failing) at new sports. With so many people at home baking, practicing yoga on Zoom, or doing anything else that may be foreign to us, this idea comes off as highly relatable as it shows that these role models and heroes are in many respects, just like the people that they inspire. This “fish out of water” content could not only give a brand exclusive, insider access to an athlete’s life, but also do so in a way that is perfectly engineered to show a more realistic look at an athlete’s experience.