The recent Women’s World Cup in France was a global phenomenon. Beyond the headlines about the U.S. victory and subsequent stories about Megan Rapinoe, one of the team’s captains, clashing with Donald Trump and pay equity, there was a focus on the high level of play and emerging talent in the sport.
While the tournament certainly generated excitement around women’s soccer, there continues to be greater interest in women’s sports across the board. To that end, sports and talent agency Wasserman launched a new women-focused division called The Collective last week with the goal of raising the visibility of women in sports, entertainment and culture.
The Collective represents a slew of elite, high-profile athletes including Rapinoe, her teammate Alex Morgan, WNBA star Sue Bird, hockey player Hilary Knight, swimmers Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky, and former soccer players Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm.
The practice also serves brands and property clients like American Express, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Diageo, AT&T and Carmax.
“It’s equally about these athletes as it is all these brands that want to target the female consumer and talk to her in an authentic way,” said Elizabeth Lindsey, president of brands and properties for Wasserman.
Indeed, as professional leagues like the WNBA and NWSL (the U.S. women’s soccer league that just signed a new deal with ESPN to televise games), in addition to sports with already strong followings like tennis and golf continue their upward trajectory, the timing of The Collective makes sense.
“There’s a lot of work that’s going on across the women’s space that’s not being centrally resourced,” said Thayer Lavielle, executive vice president of The Collective. “How do we take advantage of that with our decades of experience? Beyond that is the female consumer, because she’s the one we feel is really underserved.”
According to Lavielle, female consumers drive $40 trillion of spending and, though The Collective’s opening was fortuitously timed, it is just part of a much bigger picture. More conversations are happening than ever before, and more female voices are being heard, she said.
Lindsey is hyperfocused on deepening relationships between brands and fans.
“The consumer base is changing,” she said. “Ten to 20 years ago, it was overwhelmingly white, male and millennial. But now you’re looking a rapidly increasing multicultural and gender-based audience. There are strong followings in the LGBTQ community, and there’s Gen Z. … Just like a male fan, you have to talk differently [to women] and stop relegating them to traditional stereotype roles.”
In addition to starting The Collective, the charitable Wasserman Foundation committed $1 million to the growth and development of women in sports and entertainment. The funding supports nonprofit partners including WISE (Women in Sports and Events) and the city of Los Angeles’ Evolve Entertainment Fund. Meanwhile, Wasserman is also leading industry initiatives to increase the number of female agents, data analysts and marketers.
“I have routinely been the only woman in the room in the last 20 years of my career,” Lindsey said. “Recruiting women or people of color into sports is hard because they look into the industry and they don’t see a lot of people who look like them. The more that we can balance that, [the better we can] serve our clients.”