By  on December 7, 2006

The Women's World Cup 2007, set for Sept. 10-30 in China, offers athletic firms a chance to promote their brands on the global stage during the run up to the Beijing Summer Olympic Games in 2008.

Sporting goods companies want to extend the impact coming off strong sales in the men's World Cup last summer, and the Women's World Cup is a key ingredient in the formula to carry the momentum forward.

Matt Powell, an analyst for the consulting firm SportsONESource Inc., said although international sales could benefit from the Women's World Cup, he does not expect a surge in the U.S. market.

"The emphasis in the U.S. on World Cup has been relatively muted, except when the women's games were played here [in 1999 and 2003]," Powell said. "The men's World Cup last year was a relative non-event in the U.S. in terms of apparel sales here. I think there is interest out there, but it's certainly not the rabid interest in the rest of the world."

The efforts for the activewear firms aren't overwhelming, but they are sponsoring teams and players and launching World Cup-inspired product.

Nike, which is designing the U.S. women's team's uniforms, is promoting the new generation of women's soccer stars leading up to September, with marketing that includes a game played in New York before the Cup.

"Soccer is 365 days a year," Dean Stoyer, Nike's director of U.S. media relations, said after the World Cup 2006. "Of course, it reaches a peak at the World Cup, when even the casual soccer fans take notice, but our goal is to take that momentum through the rest of the year."

Adidas has extended its partnership with soccer's world governing body, FIFA, to be the official athletic sponsor, supplier and licensee of all major FIFA events and competitions through 2014. And the company is sponsoring several teams that it expects will qualify for the tournament, including China, Canada, Mexico and Germany.

Starting in June, Adidas will make available Women's World Cup performance and lifestyle products.

Puma also is launching a collection inspired by the Women's World Cup and is sponsoring several athletes, including Leslie Osborne from the U.S. team, as well as teams.Team sponsorships have not been completed yet, but a Puma spokeswoman said the company will likely work with several African teams, as it did during the World Cup last summer when it began a charity campaign, United for Africa. Puma wants to continue its association with the continent into the next World Cup in 2010 in South Africa.

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