Fridays CMO Dan Staples speaks about their groundbreaking first season in women’s football.



Women’s football is growing fast with some analysts predicting a 300% rise in audiences this season. To coincide with this boom time for the women’s game, leading global restaurant chain Fridays recently confirmed deals with five leading women’s football clubs.

We’re 6 games into a landmark first season of the Women’s Super League being broadcast on the BBC and Sky Sports. With the international break in the men’s game, this weekend has been branded ‘women’s football weekend’ by Sky Sports. Future Sports Marketing worked closely with Fridays to deliver the club partnerships so we thought it would be a good time to talk to Dan Staples, Chief Marketing Officer at Fridays, to see how the season has been going so far. So Dan what’s been going on at Fridays? Everyone knows the brand but what’s been happening in recent years? “TGI Fridays first opened in New York in 1965 with flowing cocktails and charismatic bar tenders. This year we’re celebrating our 35th anniversary since opening in the UK and we’ve relaunched the brand as Fridays to celebrate that unique heritage and make the brand famous once again. Informed by detailed consumer insight we knew we had to focus the brand experience around a clear brand purpose – to deliver that Fridays Feeling – and a product experience of improved quality, relevance and simplicity. We joined Fridays as a new management team in December 2019 to run the UK business. Having negotiated the challenges of Covid-19 and successfully rolled out new and improved food menus and cocktails, as of early November 2021, Fridays is now part of the newly listed Hostmore plc on the London Stock Exchange.“ What was the reason for deciding to get involved so heavily with women’s football? “Our commitment to partnerships with women’s football teams firmly supports our objective to make Fridays famous again. Following a review of several strategic approaches to identify greatest exposure and opportunity, we decided on women’s football due to a clear growth trajectory and interest for the women’s game. With over 3 million women now participating in women’s football, increasing average attendances and television views, combined with the new Women’s Super League media deals and the Euros to be hosted in England next Summer – it felt like the perfect time.“ Why did you choose the specific five clubs you partnered with? “Our clubs represent a great geographical spread that matches our footprint in the UK and gives coverage across different levels of women’s football. Rangers, Everton, Birmingham City, Hashtag Utd and Southampton provide us with unique activation opportunities that will help make Fridays relevant again and inspire the next generation. We’re excited to be working with such prestigious clubs and will be working hard to continue supporting the growth of the women’s game and positively campaign to raise awareness of women in sport.“ What does Fridays want to achieve with this landmark five club deal? “Through delivering everything from TV facing assets, digital activation, once in a lifetime match experiences, memorabilia and unrivalled player access, we can bring that emotion associated with our brand to traditional and new consumer audiences while significantly tying in our values of equality, diversity & inclusion.“ Is it all about generating exposure for the new updated Fridays brand and getting people to stop saying TGI? “It’s important to emphasise that these partnerships are more than just being another sponsor on a football shirt. Exposure for the new updated branding is important but what we really wanted was to build a deep connection with the fans of each club and find relevant ways to engage them with Fridays and our ambition to help grow the women’s game. Collaboration was a key quality when choosing which clubs we worked with. We have committed to working with our clubs to unite for something bigger. Including changing attitudes towards women in football, increasing visibility of the sport, teams & players and to inspire inclusivity and participation of the next generation. The rebrand to Fridays should be seen as a symbol of change. It’s different but familiar and we hope it will support reconsideration by a large audience who used to love us.“ Can you tell us a little about why you chose to work with Future Sports Marketing? “We were excited to work with Future Sports on this first project. They have an in depth understanding of the market and unrivalled connections within football. They also demonstrated a very clear understanding of our goals and our brand challenge and helped us kick off collaborative relationships with great teams at each of the 5 partner clubs.“ How have the first couple of months of the season been so far? “We’ve had a blast! From initially getting to know the new partner teams and the players, we planned the initial launch announcements to be a series of individual press releases that grew momentum as each one was announced. So, over a period of 6-weeks we could demonstrate how the story was building and our hope is to continue to make this activity greater than the sum of the parts. We launched a series of films to coincide with the opening of the WSL fixtures featuring all 5 clubs to #CelebrateTheGame and tackle prejudice against women’s football. It was a lot of fun and delivered hundreds of thousands of views and positive social engagement. See link here for more info.“ And what happens next?

“We have a series of further activation ideas and a big range of assets to use to engage local communities around our 5 partner clubs. Three of our agreements are for more than one year so we definitely see this as a long-term commitment to the women’s game. And this very week we look forward to #WomensFootballWeekend with a social competition to find the very biggest superfans of women’s football in the land!“