Disney Locks in 3 Key Sponsors for ESPN’s Fifty/50 Title IX Initiative

Champion, Google and Gatorade highlight the civil rights journey of women in sports

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Disney Advertising Sales is kicking off the 50th anniversary of Title IX with its sweeping Fifty/50 initiative, signing on Champion, Gatorade and Google as sponsors.

Title IX, signed into law in June 1972 as part of the Education Amendments, is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal funding, which gave women the equal opportunity to play sports at the high school and college level.

Content for the 50th anniversary of the landmark legislation will begin rolling out across ESPN platforms today.

At the helm of the month-long initiative is the four-part documentary 37 Words, directed by Dawn Porter and Nicole Newnham. Champion, Gatorade and Google will all have visibility alongside the documentary, including a digital live show co-sponsored by the three brands.

“The Fifty/50 initiative marks a significant milestone for women’s sports, and we are proud to take this moment to celebrate the advancements of women across the industry,” said Deidra Maddock, vp, Disney Advertising sports brand solutions, in a statement. “We are ecstatic to have such a dynamic slate of sponsors on board to join us in our efforts of continuously pushing the narrative forward.” 

Brands get involved

Earlier this year, ESPN continued its investment into a diverse slate of sports by launching W. Studios, a content generator that amplifies women-centered storytelling. Google funded the production of five W. Studios short films that will premiere on ESPN’s linear network before moving to its YouTube channel.

“We’re incredibly proud to once again partner with ESPN to help produce more long-form content that features the stories of incredible female athletes,” said Kate Johnson, director of sports partnerships, Google, in a statement. “ESPN’s Fifty/50 initiative is just one of multiple ways we’re partnering with the WNBA and ESPN to increase visibility of women’s sports, and we hope others will join us in investing in women’s sports beyond just this monumental moment.” 

Champion will have custom integrations in a Get Up episode and select SportsCenter episodes throughout June, and all three brands will have integrations in the 2022 ESPYs.

ESPN is hosting an event at The Paley Center for Media in New York today highlighting notable women in sports history moments. Each brand created an activation for fans. For instance, Champion looks at how women’s athletic apparel has evolved throughout the years, including customized hoodies.

Gatorade will also have three seven-foot LED billboards that highlight the brand’s Fuel Tomorrow initiative, and Google is providing new ways for fans to engage with the stories from the W. Studio short films.

“At Gatorade, we believe unequivocally that young girls should have the right to equal opportunity in sports, and we’re proud to partner with ESPN to celebrate the profound impact that the historic passage of Title IX has had on female athletes,” said Brandi Ray, Gatorade head of consumer engagement, in a statement. “We also recognize there’s a long way to go, and we’re dedicated to ensuring Gatorade continues to drive meaningful change and help close the gender gap in sports.” 

Even more content

The initiatives are part of a larger content slate across Disney. Other upcoming content includes Dream On, the story of the 1996 United States Women’s Olympic basketball team. It’s the first multi-part 30 for 30 focused on a woman-centric story.

ABC Owned Television Stations are airing a collection of stories and documentaries across local markets, culminating in a 90-minute documentary that airs on Title IX’s anniversary on linear, connected TV, Hulu and ESPN+. Walt Disney World Resorts will also have a dedicated Fifty/50 in-room channel throughout the month.

Additional digital content, podcasts and programming will be available across ESPN’s platforms.