I was always encouraged to dream big, but little did I know that one day, the dreams of working with some of the most iconic names in the world of football would become a reality. Talk about a footballer’s dream come true!
Fast forward to 2023, after 4 years of waiting, this is the year that every football fan has been eagerly anticipating. The Women’s World Cup takes center stage across both Australia & New Zealand to bring the finest teams across the world and watch them battle it out on the pitch in 4 weeks of jaw dropping, nail biting, unpredictable football!
A once in a lifetime opportunity
Being a part of the adidas global women’s brand communications team and having a personal connection to the game, through my love of football and my ties to London’s Romance FC; a women’s grassroots football collective. I was ecstatic when I found out I’d be working on the campaign.
Women’s football has grown exponentially in popularity over the years, from grassroots to the main stage – there are more teams than ever, and the caliber of talent is only getting better. We’ve got more eyeballs on the game; we’ve got more allies in the sport and the pool of talent is increasing. We wanted to lace up all that positive momentum built from the Euro’s last year and position our footballers front and center for all to see. Because we promise you, once you start watching them in action, they are impossible to ignore.
And that’s how our concept was born
The concept behind the campaign is about celebrating our most talented players in the game, highlighting their skills, and positioning them as football icons. Our next generation of hero talents include Alessia Russo, who uses her creative flair in games to trick defenders, like that sensational backheel goal during the 2022 Euros against Sweden; Australia’s double threat, Mary Fowler, a supreme football technician with incredible vision, who applies both skillsets at neck breaking speeds; and finally, one of the game’s most dangerous interceptors, Lena Oberdorf, who leaves attackers on the floor – nothing can get past her.
Our current roster of talent elevates the women’s game to new heights and if you blink, you might be left in the dust. So as a team, our goal was to get all eyes on Alessia, Mary and Lena, as well as our other talent and federations.
Now that we had that sorted, our next challenge was time. How do we build a clear concise narrative in 15 and 30 seconds to meet media requirements? It needs to be digestible, recognizable, and memorable to be a success – the challenge was on!
We’ve only got six weeks to film everything. This is going to be extremely tight! Okay, so maybe I’m being a little overdramatic. Although we had five months (which isn’t much time to begin with) to go from ideation, concepting, storyboarding to realization. We only had six weeks to film our players and to go through the whole editing, cutting and post-production rigamarole.
Just days before filming was supposed to start, we only had one of our athletes confirmed for the shoot. Which meant we still had to schedule in the rest of our diamond-studded kicking cast and, in parallel, commit to locations where filming was going to happen (this was mostly based on where our talent was at the time). Our production teams reassured us this was the usual protocol when shooting with the Messis, Beckhams and Ortegas of the world.
That said, the collaborative experience was one of the most rewarding aspects of this project. We had experienced people and teams who had worked on previous Euro and World Cup competitions, easing our minds. Our football business unit made sure we stayed credible to the sport; and my women’s comms team continued to push the limits of how we show up for women authentically – celebrating our players and the beauty of the women’s game.
Why this campaign means so much to me
I loved kicking around a football as a kid and I still do! My football days started with watching Manchester United on the television, idolizing players like Beckham and Cantona, mimicking their skills (quite badly) in the after-school kick-abouts with the boys.
Each day after school we’d rotate whose parent would pick us up and take us home. We considered ourselves lucky when one of our parents was late collecting us. That meant extra stoppage time! We’d then head to the parking lot and continue our scrappy football matches in between cars until it was time to go. Childhood memories like these make it that much sweeter, thinking how I’ve submersed myself in the world of sports as an adult.
But sadly, once I moved on to secondary school, I and many other girls my age experienced a gap in our football playing resumes. At that time, most schools only offered a boy’s football team, with no option for girls to play, which stifled the progress for many young girls in football. However, that all changed for me when I moved to London and my passion for the game was rekindled.
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Our women’s football collective Romance FC was the answer to my footie drought
As a young professional working in London, I met a few other women who also possessed a shared love of football. In the early days, it was not that different from when we were kids, we would still meet in parks after work (instead of the schoolyard of course) and kick a ball around. The simplicity of football is that it doesn’t matter what was going on in our lives at the time, such as the work-related or real-world stresses breathing down our necks; we would meet up and play, without a care in the world. We all longed for that sense of community and belonging, and for us, this is at the heart of Romance FC.
Little by little, our collective of football creatives grew and grew… And not only that, we began to serve as a platform for the younger generation too; showing them that they had a place to be themselves, play football, and see that playing professionally wasn’t the only route or option available for them.
Meanwhile, back to the film shoot!
They say that professional athletes play over 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in their craft; I did the same, except instead of playing, I watched and rewatched footage of what is now our ‘play until they can’t look away’ campaign. So, does that make me a verified expert now in the sport?
One sequence we shot from the campaign that particularly sticks out in my mind is our vignette that features Alessia Russo, with Arsenal legend and women’s football ally Ian Wright, and his prodigy granddaughter Raffaella Wright-Phillips. We wanted to highlight the multiple generations of talent in this campaign, a focus on the current players, a nod to the legends of the game and a place to shine a spotlight on the young players who are the future of the game.
Twenty years ago, young girls couldn’t even begin to imagine a career as a footballer, but times are changing, and our players play a big part in inspiring young girls to pick up a ball and dream big – they will see world in which this isn’t just a dream but an achievable reality.
Let’s take the time to celebrate the game
It’s not about comparing the men’s and the women’s game, but more along the lines of what Georgia Stanway once said, “It’s not women’s and men’s football – it’s just football.” Either you are a football fan, or you are not!
The adidas teams working behind the scenes for this year’s women’s World Cup campaign overcame many challenges to bring you a story that celebrates women on the world’s biggest stage (so a big hats off goes out to our comms teams, our business units, our production teams, our agency and everyone else who had a helping hand in bringing this campaign to life!).
You might even notice some hidden gems in our video vignettes, like a familiar Romance FC jersey making a special appearance. Comment below if you can spot any hidden clues and football references throughout the 30’ and 15’ edits.
For the month-long tournament, now is the time to grab your friends and family, gather round the television for 90 minutes of non-stop action, and to watch our talented players live out their dreams. During the half-time pause, why not check out more information on Romance FC and our adidas football collective grassroots teams
The football train has left the station – are you going to be left behind or are you coming along for the ride!