Gen Z’s Impact on Women’s Sport Marketing

Gen Z is very interested in women’s sport, and research into connecting with this powerful audience prioritises diversity, equity and inclusivity. Photo: Brandon Todd/New York Liberty. In this file image, 2023 Commissioner’s Cup champions NWBA’s New York Liberty celebrate defeating the Las Vegas Aces 99-61 at the Barclays Center Arena in Brooklyn, New York, the USA, on 6 August, 2023.

The influence of Gen Z on the realm of women’s sport marketing has emerged as a game-changer, and an article from adage.com sheds light on how this young generation’s engagement with women’s sports has transformed the landscape of sports marketing.

Ellie, the NWBA’s New York Liberty’s mascot in the form of an elephant, has captured the hearts of thousands, donning various personas and accumulating over 12,000 Instagram followers. 

CLICK HERE TO SEE ELLIE IN ACTION (Opens in a new tab on X)

Her antics, including dressing up as Barbie for a basketball game, have become viral sensations, signalling a crucial aspect of the Liberty’s strategy to engage Gen Z and foster brand partnerships.

Shana Stephenson, the Liberty’s Chief Brand Officer, highlighted Ellie’s pivotal role in attracting a significant Gen Z audience. One-third of the Liberty’s fanbase now comprises Gen Z, facilitating a surge in brand sponsorships, growing from a single deal in 2019 to a substantial 30 by this season.

And the trend is not going unnoticed, with leagues and brands are capitalising on Gen Z’s avid consumption of women’s sports content on social media platforms. 

The National Women’s Soccer League’s recent $240 million media rights deal with major networks amplifies the commercial value and increased viewership of women’s sports, largely driven by Gen Z audiences.

Damian Areyan, VP at Publicis Groupe agency Team One, highlighted the burgeoning interest in women’s sports among brands, seeking to resonate with younger audiences. 

Companies like Gatorade are strategically reshaping their marketing strategies to connect with Gen Z, emphasising the importance of social media content during sports events.

2023 Commissioner’s Cup champions Liberty’s success with Gen Z isn’t merely due to Ellie’s charm; hiring a Gen Z marketer, Charlie DeSadier, to oversee their social channels contributed significantly to perfecting the team’s social media voice, leading to authentic interactions with younger audiences.

Gatorade’s Carolyn Braff highlighted the critical role of social media in engaging Gen Z sports fans. Braff emphasised the importance of being present not just during live games, but also during other sports-related moments on social platforms.

Gen Z’s passion for women’s sports is evident as they engage deeply with players through platforms like YouTube, driving views on series like “Liberty Unlocked” from thousands to over 50,000. Wasserman’s The Collective found that 74% of 18 to 24-year-olds engage with sports via social media, on platforms where women athletes are able to bootstrap their way to significantly bolstering visibility.

The rise in media coverage dedicated to women’s sports, observed in recent years, indicates a paradigm shift. The Collective’s study showcased an increase to 15% of overall sports coverage, up from a mere 4% in 2018, a significant milestone prompting more brands to invest in women’s sports.

While Gen Z’s attention has propelled investment in women’s sports, continued efforts toward diversity, equity, and inclusion drive marketers to support these games beyond mere profitability. Brands like CarMax underscore their commitment to elevating women’s sports visibility as part of a broader initiative for equality.

Nevertheless, challenges persist, notably the need for increased coverage of women’s sports in prime slots. The Collective’s report and Gen Z’s vocal advocacy might be catalysts for the desired shift in media representation and sponsorship investment for women athletes.


Main Photo Caption: Gen Z is very interested in women’s sport, and research into connecting with this powerful audience prioritises diversity, equity and inclusivity. Photo: Brandon Todd/New York Liberty. In this file image, 2023 Commissioner’s Cup champions NWBA’s New York Liberty celebrate defeating the Las Vegas Aces 99-61 at the Barclays Center Arena in Brooklyn, New York, the USA, on 6 August, 2023. Photo: Brandon Todd/New York Liberty

Photo 2 Caption: Companies like Gatorade are strategically reshaping their marketing strategies to connect with Gen Z, emphasising the importance of social media content during sports events. Photo: Brandon Todd/New York Liberty

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Launched in 2006, gsport exists to enhance the commercial prospects of our women athletes, and other women in sport, by telling the inspiring story of SA women in sport. Thank you for your contribution!

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