LONDON: Women's football is the fourth-biggest participation sport in the UK and brands are increasingly tapping into a family-friendly sport that is gaining increased media coverage.

The current FIFA Women's World Cup has attracted a lot of coverage, not least as the England team progressed to semi-finals and only lost a final place in the last moments of the game.

Marketing reported viewing figures of 1.6m for a game that was broadcast after midnight and said the national team had "re-inspired a nation and altered the landscape of women's football beyond recognition".

The adam&eveDDB agency is currently working with the Football Association on a campaign, #wecanplay, to tackle negative images of women playing football.

"[We aim] to make football the second-biggest participation sport in England, behind men's football, by 2018," Russell James, the FA's head of marketing, told Marketing.

Advertisers have taken note with major brands like Adidas and Continental Tyres sponsoring the World Cup and the England Women's team respectively.

"This delivers us to an important audience, namely families, and allows us to talk about our premium brand so that we are top of mind during the purchasing decision for tyres," explained Guy Frobisher, UK marketing director for Continental Tyres.

James also highlighted the "family-friendly atmosphere" of women's football which, he suggested "presents a huge opportunity for brands".

Mat Goff, adam&eveDDB's managing director, saw an opportunity for brands to take a long view. "Brands getting involved in women's football have a chance to get in early and help to shape and create the way fans enjoy, watch and share their experiences," he said.

"As the sport gets bigger, the players will become higher profile, which will create a whole new raft of well-known sporting heroes for the brands to associate themselves with."

"When we go past the tipping point - it feels like the time is now - and female football stars become as mainstream as their male counterparts and are being emulated in playgrounds, there are rich sponsorship opportunities," he argued.

Data sourced from Marketing; additional content by Warc staff