UEFA Euro 2022 sponsor Heineken teamed up with comic Ellie Taylor, TV presenter AJ Odudu, former football manager Harry Redknapp and former soccer stars Karen Carney and Jermaine Jenas for a UK campaign called ‘The 12th Woman’ which tackled football gender bias and stereotypes.
‘The 12th Woman’, which was developed by creative communications agency Cow and ran in the host nation, sees the celebrities and sports stars urge fans to get behind their national teams with a gender twist on the traditional ‘12th Man’ term usually used to refer to crowd support providing an extra boost to a team.
Comedian, actress and presenter Taylor joined former Spurs and Portsmouth manager Redknapp, England women’s legend Carney and former England and Spurs midfielder turned TV presenter Jenas to shine a spotlight on the gender imbalance in football language and to encourage fans to join ‘The 12th Woman’ Euro 2022 movement.
The campaign was spearheaded by a hero spot which dropped across TV, digital and social channels from 29 June with the copy line: “One passion, one tournament and one subtle name change to a familiar football phrase that is being substituted by Heineken. Be The 12th Woman’.
— Heineken® UK (@Heineken_UK) July 8, 2022
Supporting the lead spot is a set of supporting digital and social content, while T-Shirts bearing the campaign slogan are available on Amazon for £12 with profits donated to the Women in Football organization.
Heineken Marketing Manager Stephanie Dexter commented: “For so long, football culture and fandom has been influenced by the men’s game. So, while the women’s game has grown massively, a legacy of terms such as ‘man on’ and the ‘the 12th man’ continue to dominate.”
Karen Carney, who played 144 times for England, said: “There are 11 women on the pitch who are giving everything to win for their country. Knowing that fans are cheering them on in the stands, at homes and in pubs across the country makes a difference.”
While Harry Redknapp added: “When I was playing professionally it really was a man’s game – women were banned from playing football in 1921 and the Women’s Football Association wasn’t even established until 1969. Thankfully times have changed, and in a big way, and I’m really proud to be a 12th woman and to wear the T-shirt for all to see.”
Women In Football CEO said: “We’ve been really impressed by Heineken’s commitment to addressing gender inequality in football. That’s what Women in Football is all about too, so it’s fantastic to team up with it on the ’12th Woman’ campaign. Every action that supports our work and amplifies our message helps to level the playing field and make football a fairer and better place.”
The idea is based on the fact that, while the profile of the women’s game has risen in recent years, the language and terminology around the game still lags way behind with phrases such as ‘man on’, ‘man marking’ and ‘12th man’ continuing to dominate.
Heineken hopes to accelerate a lexicon change with this campaign.
The 12th Woman is a positive, celebratory ‘movement’ style campaign that encourages fans of all genders to show their passion for women’s football and it links to Heineken’s wider ‘Passion Knows No Gender – Cheers To All Fans’ initiative which launched in May around the Champions League and sees the beer brand and UEFA partner challenge bias and promote equality in football on and off the pitch.