To help female athletes achieve their full potential, the beer brand Michelob Ultra recently announced a $100 million commitment to women’s sports over the next five years. In addition, the Anheuser-Busch brand pledges gender balance in its advertising creative, talent endorsements, lifestyle media and sponsorships by 2025.
Michelob Ultra made this commitment to women's sports with the launch of the “Save It, See It” campaign, urging fans on social media to boost the visibility of female athletes. As part of the push for equal pay, the brand says it is working to elevate female athletes. The company made the announcement on Women’s Equality Day, which just occurred last week.
“Coming off the [Olympic] Games where women did exceptionally well and brought home more medals than men, we believe it’s the right time to keep people watching women’s sports,” said Ricardo Marques, Michelob Ultra’s marketing vice president said in a Forbes interview.
Historically, women have had fewer opportunities to participate in sports, but significant gains have been made since the early 1970s. Yet, 1.13 million more boys participate than girls in the U.S., according to 2018-2018 data from the National Federation of State High School Associations. It’s clear much work still lies ahead.
The advantages of participating in youth sports are undeniable, especially for teenage girls, who often suffer from a lack of confidence. The physical benefits of sports include lower obesity, blood pressure and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Psychologically, the benefits include improved wellbeing, a stronger sense of belonging, and greater self-esteem. Academically, studies have suggested that some students involved in athletics show greater academic achievement and higher college attendance and retention.
The Women's Sports Foundation surveyed over 2,300 women working in sports and released a national research report, "Chasing Equity: The Triumphs, Challenges and Opportunities in Sports for Girls and Women.” The report found that the gender gap in sports is getting smaller, yet it persists. If the benefits are so great, the lack of opportunity could hinder women from reaching their full potential.
“I just think participation in sport does so much for the well-being of girls – it builds their confidence, helps manage stress/mental health, and prepares them to handle failure, knowing that the next day may be when they win. It is great preparation for a career,” said a survey participant.
Michelob Ultra has a roster of female athletes known for bringing equality to women's sports. Nneka Ogwumike is the WNBPA President and a voice for female athlete representation.
As the first openly transgender female athlete to win an NCAA title, CeCe Telfer is an LGBTQ+ champion. Andraya Carter is a basketball analyst, reporter, former NCAA athlete and inclusivity advocate. As a leader in sports marketing, the company is well-positioned to make a difference.
"It's not just about making a statement today," says Nneka Ogwumike, President of the WNBA Players Association. "It's also about setting goals and taking actionable steps toward gender equality on and off the court, which is why I'm proud to be a partner of Michelob Ultra and will continue to support their commitment to women's sports equality."
This follows a recent trend for athletics to serve as drivers of social change. For example, LeBron James is helping to increase assess to voting for felons and Black Lives Matter was stenciled on the NFL fields and NBA courts.
"Michelob Ultra is proud to be a longtime partner of female athletes and organizations, and as a leader in both the beer and sports marketing industries, there's so much more we can do to help support equal pay when it comes to women's sports," said Marques in a press release.
"We need to set the example, and the time for equality has always been now. Our commitment demonstrates Michelob Ultra’s core belief that female athletes deserve an equal experience, whether they're on the court, in the newsroom, or on our TV screens."
Image credit: Jeffrey F. Lin/Unsplash
Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.