Hannah Waddingham Cheers To ‘Watch Women’s Sports’ In New Campaign With Johnnie Walker

As the FIFA Women’s World Cup is in the midst of quarter-finals matches, Johnnie Walker is hoping to draw even more attention to the games that are part of the largest standalone women’s sporting event in the world.

The Scotch whisky brand teamed up with Hannah Waddingham, perhaps better known to TV fanatics for her fictitious performance as Rebecca Welton, owner of AFC Richmond, on Ted Lasso, to tune into the matches and watch more women’s sports year-round.

“The ridiculous myth that ‘sport is for men and boys; is utter nonsense,” Waddingham told Forbes, who’s been rooting for England this World Cup, watching alongside her daughter.

With a simple message to “Watch Women’s Sports,” the partnership was influenced by the fact that women make up more than 40 percent of all athletes, yet receive less than 10 percent of total sports news coverage.

“I had no idea that these figures were so crazy,” said Waddingham about learning of the disparity of women versus men’s sport viewers leading up to the partnership. “I’m glad to use my status from a globally successful show essentially rooted in football to bring as much attention to back Johnnie Walker’s efforts as I possibly can.”

This includes Waddingham’s Match Day Memos, inspirational video reminders to prompt viewers of upcoming matches, which the actress and advocate has been producing since July 14, in the lead up of the first match, and will continue to create until the final on August 20.

Thus far, Waddingham says the reactions to her daily memos have been “exactly what we wanted,” adding that the reactions she appreciates most “are from fans of Ted Lasso who’ve loved having me ‘order’ them to watch women’s sports more! It’s great fun that they react like that and makes for a lighthearted response to a genuine call to action.” She says that the match day memos are just the beginning of her efforts to encourage young girls to enjoy sports.

Though Waddingham played netball for Surrey in high school and recalls the enjoyment of watching WWE wrestling, she shared that she was never encouraged to partake in sports. “I have wanted to redress the balance with my own child. Anything that I achieved at school regarding sports was hard-fought and not encouraged.”

Upon asking Waddingham about why she believes women’s sport gets far less attention, she suggested that “because historically it has been something from childhood that we are taught is a masculine phenomenon.” But, she added, “Enough is enough! When you look at how sportswomen perform, they cannot be overlooked or ignored anymore.”

To expand the reach of Waddingham’s Match Day Memos, Johnnie Walker teamed up with three organizations dedicated to gender equality to deliver their initiative across the globe: The Women’s Sports Foundation, Just Women’s Sports, and Hello Sunshine. The ‘Watch Women’s Sports’ campaign is also an extension to Johnnie Walker’s First Strides initiative that was established in 2022 to “celebrate, inspire and enable more meaningful firsts in culture.”

Yet, Johnnie Walker’s commitment to advocating for equality dates further back to their role as a founding partner of Angel City Football Club in 2021, the first majority women-founded, owned and operated pro-soccer team, and since expanding to partnering with Gotham FC.

With a week left in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Waddingham reminds of a factor that falls under the radar when watching any game: “It’s sport and theater all rolled into one. The stars are hugely dedicated and inspiring for young children.”

Waddingham wishes to prove inspiring to the next generation of female athletes, too. “I hope to be ever present and particularly encourage youngsters and particularly young girls to enjoy sports. Enjoy sport at school and step into their own greatness.”

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