How Serena Williams helped put 23 soccer stars on a Wheaties box
As Wheaties celebrates the four-time world champion U.S. women’s national soccer team, we wanted to give you a closer look at how the box came to be.
No doubt, the remarkable success and domination of the USWNT put them there.
But Serena Williams also had something to do with it.
As the current champion on the Wheaties box in stores in the U.S. – and focus of Wheaties’ “She’s a Champion” campaign – the brand team went to Williams first to get her thoughts on sharing the spotlight with the USWNT.
She didn’t hesitate.
In the news release announcing the USWNT Wheaties box on August 1, Williams said, “The USWNT captivated the world this summer. They impressed us all with their incredible accomplishments on the field – and their use of sports as a platform to inspire the next generation of girls. I believe a champion embodies a person in all aspects of their life and I am so proud to share my time on the Wheaties box with these amazing women who are doing just that. When we support each other and build each other up, we can do anything.”
The Wheaties team pushed for the partnership, quickly.
“As we watched the U.S. women’s national team secure the title of four-time world champions, we knew this was a huge moment in sports culture,” says Taylor Gessell, manager, Brand Experience for Wheaties. “These women showed the grit and tenacity to compete at the highest level and broke records all along the way. This same grit and tenacity is what sets Serena Williams apart from her competition. We took the idea to Serena and she was eager to support it.”
Hear Gessell talk more about the honor for the USWNT, and Williams’ involvement, in this audio clip.
With Williams’ blessing, the Wheaties team worked fast after the USWNT won it all in France in July. They approached the team and then got the proverbial soccer ball rolling on a plan to print the boxes, get them packaged up and ready to sell.
That’s a lot harder than it sounds.
It usually takes a few months to add a new box into the production process, for a box headed to a grocery store.
But in the case of the USWNT, the Wheaties team couldn’t send their boxes to stores. Remember, Williams’ historic cereal box was already there.
So Wheaties knew it needed to try something different. The USWNT boxes went on sale as a limited-edition promotion on August 1, at Wheaties.com.
Wheaties is only offering 10,000 of the commemorative boxes, while supplies last.
They’re selling for $23 (to honor the 23 players on the team). And, most importantly, the brand team decided that 100% of the price will be donated to organizations committed to empowering young girls through sports – including Girls in the Game and the U.S. Soccer Girls Development Academy.
So, you’re paying it forward too. Just like Serena Williams.
At an event in Los Angeles, California, on launch day, the USWNT players were able to see and hold their Wheaties box in their hands for the first time.
“It was pretty incredible,” Gessell says. “The head of the player’s association actually made the announcement. The room just erupted. Everybody was cheering. Everybody was so excited, trying to get a closer look at the box. It was awesome seeing the women find themselves on the front of the package.”
The players appreciated the honor.
“It is beyond wonderful to see our team on the cover of the iconic Wheaties box,” says Becky Sauerbrunn, USWNT defender. “Not only is it an honor to have our team recognized amongst some of the world’s most renowned athletes, this highlights our World Cup win as more than just a win for the sport of soccer, it supports our drive for women’s equality in all sports.”
The USWNT haven’t lost in international soccer competition in 16 games. And they set a record this summer for the most goals in the world tournament’s history with 26 in seven games (breaking its own record of 25 in 1991, in six games).
Putting the USWNT on a Wheaties box will go down in sports history, but it’s also now a part of the brand’s history of acting fast and trying something new.
And you can be a part of USWNT history too, by buying a box and supporting the organizations involved.
“This was a great opportunity to do something that allowed Serena Williams, the USWNT and Wheaties to unite in a cause that supports the next generation of female athletes,” adds Gessell.
Once again, you can find Williams’ Wheaties box in stores across the U.S. right now.
And you can buy the box featuring the USWNT team – while supplies last – at Wheaties.com. (Editor’s note: As of September 16, 2019, the box is no longer for sale).
Editor’s note: High-resolution photos of the USWNT Wheaties box can be downloaded here.
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