The 2019 U.S. Open kicks off today in Queens, New York, and there are plenty of questions heading into it. Will Serena be healthy? Will Naomi Osaka’s knee hold up? Can 15-year-old Coco Grauff surprise us again?
What we do know is that brand advertisers have already been playing the Grand Slam game for a while now. Three in particular are using this year’s tournament to align themselves with the empowerment, inspiration, and equality of female athletes.
Nike, New Balance, and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) have all launched ads in the last week or so that celebrate female athlete empowerment in a few different ways. Seeing as its Women’s Equality Day, the USTA’s “Women Worth Watching,” created by agency Mcgarrybowen, shines a light on how little attention is actually given to women’s sports—citing that just 4% of sports media coverage includes women. The organization will be hyping the campaign across social and expanding its partnership with nonprofit SheIs.
Nike’s “Sport Changes Everything” campaign goes for full-on inspiration with spots starring Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens, Naomi Osaka, and Simona Halep, all featuring young girl fans reading out letters to their tennis heroes.
Meanwhile, New Balance continues its newfound push into major sports branding (don’t forget Mr. Fun Guy) with a new spot celebrating young phenom Coco Gauff that oozes with the brash, youthful attitude of any next generation.
Individually, the ads themselves are just okay. Together, though, they illustrate the power of the U.S. Open—and tennis in general—as a leader in gender equality in sports. Tennis Grand Slams are perhaps the most high-profile sporting events in which the women are covered with as much media and fan excitement as the men, and the U.S. Open is the biggest of the bunch. These three campaigns rightly take advantage of that, an example that brands should be following not just on Women’s Equality Day, but every day.