Disney and Ally announced a multi-year, multimillion dollar deal to invest more than 90% of Ally’s media budget in ESPN’s women’s sports broadcasts
The GIST: Come on and lift your glass to Disney and Ally. On Monday, the pair announced a multi-year, multimillion dollar deal to invest more than 90% (!!!) of Ally’s media budget in ESPN’s women’s sports broadcasts, beginning with March’s ACC women’s and men’s basketball championships.
- To break down the innovative new agreement, The GIST chatted exclusively with two of its architects — Disney Advertising president Rita Ferro and Ally CMO Andrea Brimmer.
The details: Ally will activate around the ACC title games for hoops, lacrosse and soccer and will air ads during other women’s sports events. The financial services company will also sponsor a monthly SportsCenter segment and social media highlight reels and help Disney’s CreativeWorks team build content to champion gender equity.
- Although they don’t hold U.S. broadcast rights, some custom creative will run in SportsCenter episodes during July’s FIFA Women’s World Cup to complement ESPN’s “robust slate of editorial coverage to surround the ‘game around the game,’” per Ferro.
The how: Late last year, Ally approached Disney as part of the 50/50 Pledge, the bank’s initiative to reach equal media spend in women’s and men’s sports. Completing that pledge “was more difficult than … anticipated,” Brimmer said, because “the way that media is sold is biased towards men's sports.”
- “Oftentimes when you're sitting down at the negotiation table, the first salvo is always ‘Here, buy X amount of men's media and we'll throw in some women's sports media as value add,’ and that was not what we wanted,” she added.
- The end result required a transformation of the process, so Disney “worked closely with Ally to create an intentionally inclusive sponsorship package with gender equity at its core,” according to Ferro.
The trend: Disney’s deal with Ally reflects a company-wide trend to increase its women’s and men’s sports offerings — it secured $9B in commitments from advertisers during its last upfront, and Ferro “saw substantial DEI commitments from every major holding company.” Inclusivity is key.
- Brimmer noticed industry-wide change, too. Michelob Ultra and Google have committed big bucks to women’s sports in recent years, and brands like CarMax, Nationwide and Delta have reached out to Ally to learn their moves.
The bottom line: Ferro said the deal “serves as a blueprint for how we should interact with the media landscape as it relates to women’s athletics,” and Brimmer agreed: “It should change the way that media platforms look at programming for women's sports … because they're seeing that there's a substantive appetite from brands.”
- “It should change the way that [they] think about selling women's sports and not making it something that is an afterthought,” Brimmer continued, “or an add-on or a byproduct of an allocation of men's sports.” Be our guest.