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The importance of brands sponsoring women’s sport

Once again the subject of women in sport is all over the news. However this feature is not about tennis, instead it looks at Asda’s recently announced sponsorship of the Tour de Yorkshire.

In a shrewd move, the supermarket brand has decided to only sponsor the women’s race, contributing a total prize fund of £50,000 with the winner receiving £15,000 for a one-day race compared to the £11,000 on offer for the winner of the men’s three-day race. The race will be televised in full for the very first time thanks to Eurosport and ITV4 and world champion Lizzie Armitstead has confirmed her attendance at the race for the first time.

The fact that this year’s women’s race will cover the same UCI-ranked course, has the same media coverage and offers the same, if not more, prize pot as the men is only the start. In an interview about the Tour de Yorkshire, Lizzie called for the women’s race to take place over three days to make it completely comparable to the men’s race. Indeed, as world champion, it’s fair to say coverage of Lizzie’s latest wins in UK media are moderate. In fact if you type her name into Google, the predictions are embarrassing:

However there is no doubt that her attendance will help raise the profile of the race which has ambitions to be recognised as the number-one cycle race in Britain. It will also help position Asda in a very positive light among the female decision-makers across the UK.

Women’s sport will also benefit, similar in fact to the appearance of Sir Steve Redgrave’s daughter in the women’s 2011 Boat Race that helped propel sponsor Newton Investment Management into the limelight. That ultimately led to the women’s Boat Race taking place on the same course and on the same day as the men’s race and being shown on live television in 2015. It may have taken four years, but I have no doubt the supermarket brand will reap the benefits of being the ‘first’ and elevating the Tour de Yorkshire into being the race for women in the cycling calendar.

 Written by Nicola McKelvey, consultant at agency Performance Communications

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