2023 AIG Women’s Open
Tadworth, Surrey, UK
Brand Activation, Event, Environmental Graphic Design
The R&A commissioned Populous to develop a fresh event strategy and festival village experience for the 2023 AIG Women’s Open, held at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey, UK. This annual event is one of the five major championships in women’s golf, showcasing an international field of 144 of the world’s best players and drawing spectators from around the globe.
CHALLENGE. Aligned with The R&A’s fan-centric vision for the Championship, Populous faced the challenge of significantly expanding off-course entertainment, food and beverage offerings for spectators. The initiative aimed to reimagine the championship experience to attract a diverse fanbase and increase attendance among younger women.
“‘Golf. Opened up.’ was the message from The R&A throughout the week, as it looked to inspire the next generation of fans and give those of all ages a new way to experience golf.”Sky Sports – AIG Women’s Open notebook: Charley Hull, Ellie Goulding, World Cup fever, Lionesses and more
INNOVATION: Working closely with The R&A’s marketing and communications teams, Populous’ brand activation team helped to develop a new creative direction and messaging strategy for the Championship. The 2023 campaign used the tagline ‘Golf. Opened Up’, aiming to change people’s perceptions of the spectator experience at a golf tournament.
Additionally, Populous oversaw the design of the festival fan village, guided by audience analysis conducted by Populous and research commissioned by The R&A into the UK golf audience, and drawing on decades of experience in event overlay and logistics for major events like the Super Bowl, the Olympics and the Paralympic Games.
As part of The R&A’s GolfIt! and golf development initiatives, golf lessons and activities were available for people of all ages and skill levels, including mini-golf and putting challenges for those not yet ready to swing a golf club. The design also integrated a variety of family-friendly, non-golf activities, including e-sports, immersive virtual reality experiences and panel discussions led by influential women from the realms of sports, culture, business and entertainment.
In addition to these activities, the scheme featured various styles of food and drink stalls to accommodate those watching live golf on large screens in the centre of the village. Here, attendees could comfortably sit on deck chairs and bean bags while enjoying the celebration of women’s sport, which included screenings of all four quarter-finals of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, in addition to the on-course golfing action.
After the close of play on Saturday night, the entertainment continued with a concert by the award-winning British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding, marking the debut of live music at the Championship.
IMPACT: Attendances at the 2023 AIG Women’s Open increased by 54 per cent compared to the previous year, with 84 per cent of spectators rating their overall satisfaction with the experience as 8 out of 10 or higher. The festival fan village played a key role in this success, with 80 per cent of spectators rating the experience better than previous Championships.
The event strategy has laid the foundation for a new path charted by The R&A, with the goal of significantly increasing attendance at the Championship. Speaking to media at the AIG Women’s Open, Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A, said, “Women’s golf needs to differentiate itself from men’s golf and not just be a smaller version of men’s golf. What we are trying to do here is we created a different identity and we hope that it’s one that will really allow these great players to show us how good they are and a provide lot of people with a really good time.”