ESPN Touts Women’s World Cup

NEW YORK On a sunny afternoon a camera crew shot a small group of soccer players doing what they do best, at the Home Depot Center—a soccer stadium in Carson, Calif., that is home to both the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA of Major League Soccer. Amazingly, David Beckham didn’t make it into a single frame.

That’s because the spot being created was for the U.S. women’s team, which is gearing up for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2007, the biggest event in women’s soccer that kicks off this week in China.

The 30-second spot will appear on ESPN, ESPN2 and the cable network’s Web site, ESPN360.

As the games get under way, ESPN will produce topical, storyline-driven spots between the games, with a focus on the U.S. team, said Seth Ader, senior marketing director at ESPN.

The U.S. team, ranked No. 1 and considered the favorite to win, will play North Korea on Tuesday. “We will get right into an edit, literally within minutes of the game ending, with what happened in that game and talk about what we expect to happen in the next match,” said Ader.

Promoting the women’s team and the event has faced challenges, Adler said.

Given the location of the games (China), the time zone is unfavorable for the U.S. Added to that, September marks a very busy time for sports, which includes the beginning of football season. But, the biggest factor is the “relative unknown entity” of women’s soccer, he said. “And the [US] women’s team is the best in the world. These girls are stars in their own right. Our job was to make them household names and to give American sports fans a reason to care,” said Ader.