Cannes Lions

Red Lioness


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BT is a business built on innovation. Its brand mission is to remove the limits of today to help release the potential of tomorrow. To break barriers and set new standards. And in a sport where men walked on the moon before women could legally play the game - women’s football has faced more barriers than most.

As primary sponsor of all four British women’s national teams and exclusive broadcaster of the Women’s Super League (WSL), BT wanted to accelerate women’s football into the mainstream.

Our brief was to inspire a new generation of fans and create a legacy for generations to come.


The Red Lioness Pledge signalled a commitment by British pubs to screen and promote every live Women’s Super League and Lionesses match, while creating a welcoming environment for all.

On 7 November 2019, the Red Lion pub in Moorgate, London was transformed into the Red Lioness – lighting the touchpaper that would spark a nationwide movement to change the way we view women’s football forever.

With the addition of three letters, the UK’s most popular pub name became a defiant symbol of change. Kick-starting a commitment by over 1,000 pubs to screen and promote every live Women's Super League and women’s home nations match.

For 10 days we hosted a celebration of women’s football but created a legacy that would last a lifetime.

Because if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.


This was never about creating a branded experience. It was about creating a movement for change.

We applied the three-step strategy of political activism – agitate, educate, affiliate - to start our own revolution.

To agitate: we transformed the Red Lion to the Red Lioness, creating the spark that would wake people up from their inertia and tell them that something must change.

To educate: we visited and spoke to pubs and pub groups, to help them understand the issue and explain the initiative. We amplified our message with national and local press, social and used players, influencers, journalists and brand ambassadors, like Clare Balding, to promote the Pledge.

To affiliate: we made the creative leap from education into action. Uniting pubs around our common cause, with a clear call to action. To sign the Red Lioness Pledge and become part of a community committed to championing the game.


Renaming the Red Lion wasn’t a change of symbol, it was a symbol of change.

So, we changed everything.

From a new logo and visual identity to a full redesign of the pub, inside and out. We worked with the FA, National Football Museum and WSL clubs to bring 100 years of history to life. Official Red Lioness shirts. The world’s first women’s foosball table. Exclusive Red Lioness beer on tap.

Rather than male toilets outnumbering female bathrooms, we made them unisex. With baby changing facilities and free sanitary products in every one.

On 7 November uur doors opened. Players, celebrities, influencers and journalists stood shoulder to shoulder with fans, to promote the Pledge. Clare Balding became our ambassador, as we continued to educate and affiliate pubs to our cause.

National and local press, and social media were used to amplify scale, increase reach and provide a call to action.


From a target of 150 pledges in six months, over 1,000 pubs signed up to the Red Lioness Pledge in just two weeks.

The campaign has also strengthened BT Sport’s relationships with their Pubs and Clubs network – vital partners in the commercial success of the BT Sport business.

With 235 pubs closing every month, it’s imperative for pubs and BT Sport, that they adapt and find new revenue streams.

During the 10 days the Red Lioness was open, Greene King reported a 64% increase in like-for-like sales during the same period in 2018.

We proved that championing women’s football and welcoming its fans, could drive increased footfall, create a new business model and generate additional revenue.

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