She scored in another way before the competition even started, though, when BodyArmor, a lesser-known sports drink she is a spokesperson for, released an ad praising Rapinoe and the U.S. Women's team.
Here's the ad:
The black-and-white ad features the following text overlaid:
"Nothing like a 30-something, purple haired, fiercely independent, goal-scoring, guitar-strumming, outspoken, relentless competitor that stands for all that is beautiful, all that is good, all that is us. Now that's America. Thanks, Megan. Let's go U.S.A."
While the company hasn't confirmed it, speculation is that the ad ran in response to Rapinoe's rebuff of a potential White House visit. (Rapinoe said she was "not going to the [expletive] White House" if the U.S. won.)
BodyArmor, whose endorsers include Mike Trout, James Harden, and Andrew Luck, rounds out its portfolio with the edgier, more controversial Rapinoe. Rapinoe has challenged the POTUS, was the first to kneel during the national anthem in support of equally controversial Colin Kaepernick, led the charge to sue the governing body of women's U.S. soccer for gender discrimination, is outspoken on LGBTQ issues and social change, and has even challenged the "conventional" view of beauty by posing in this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.
Here's why BodyArmor's aligning with Rapinoe is so smart
Not everyone agrees with the provocative Rapinoe, but that doesn't (and certainly shouldn't) keep her from keeping on with her outspokenness and brashness. Nor should it keep BodyArmor, an up-and-comer (but not the leader) in the sports drink category, from riding the Rapinoe rapids.
The Coca-Cola Company has a minority stake in the brand, but that doesn't mean the brand can just rely on Coca-Cola-like spending and massive awareness to drive sales. They, like many other smaller brands, must find creative ways to align themselves with things that portray the kind of brand values that will make them stick out in a crowded marketplace. BodyArmor is about giving athletes an edge through superior hydration, and Rapinoe helps reinforce "edge" in a unique way.
Savvy smaller brands do this--they project their values efficiently and effectively via association with someone or something that shares similar values.
And they do it in a way that for every dollar they spend, it creates $10 of impact. Small bets with medium risk to produce high rewards. BodyArmor's Rapinoe ad will get people talking (far more than an Andrew Luck ad), and talking equals brand awareness.
At Procter & Gamble, I witnessed Old Spice deodorant completely reinvent itself to be edgier, funnier, and far more relevant for today's young male. The brand moved itself away from an "Old Spice is for my dad" reputation to a hipper profile through brilliant, irreverent advertising (remember "Man on a horse?") and made its small advertising budget act as if it was far bigger through a viral ad and general word of mouth.
The bottom line is that lesser-known brands have to take chances to stand out and push the envelope. And to help the bottom line, their advertising executions have to loudly amplify and reverberate, like the many ripples a small stone can create in a big pond.
BodyArmor has accomplished this with its signing of Rapinoe and with its recent Rapinoe ad. With another World Cup victory for the U.S. Women's team, they should keep reaping gold behind their savvy move.