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Archive for the ‘Endorsement Profile’ Category

Endorsement Profile: Maria Sharapova

Posted by ZA on December 11, 2009

Athlete: Maria Sharapova
Sport: Tennis
League: WTA
Agent: IMG (Max Eisenbud)
Age: 22   (April 19, 1987)
Rank in SI’s richest athletes: 13 (International list)

Maria Sharapova endorsement deals (thru Dec. 2009):
* Canon
* Cole Haan
* Land Rover
* Nike (athletic shoes & apparel)
* Parlux Fragrances (perfume)
* Prince (tennis racquets)
* Sony Ericsson
* Tag Heuer
* Tiffany & Co

Former Sharapova endorsement deals:
Colgate-Palmolive, Gatorade, Motorola & Tropicana

Maria Sharapova endorsement potential:
Maria Sharapova is the top female endorsement star in the sports world.  Sharapova has competition from Venus & Serena Williams, Danica Patrick, Michelle Wie and Lorena Ochoa; but Maria is still the top endorser among female athletes.  Sharapova’s endorsement success has been helped by her good looks; she was named in 2005 as one of People magazine’s 50 most beautiful celebrities in the world.  But Sharapova is not just another pretty face (i.e.- Anna Kournikova), she is one of the top players in tennis who has won 3 of the 4 tennis major tournaments.

Only in her early 20’s Sharapova is already a global brand, which her sponsors take advantage of by featuring her in advertisements in the United States, Europe and Asia.  She is from Russia, but does not endorse any Russian companies.  But her lineup of endorsement deals is the envy of any athlete in the world.  She has some of the biggest companies on the planet tailoring their marketing campaigns around her name.  Canon has featured Sharapova in new product launches which were so successful that they even made Maria’s dog a star.

What’s next for the tennis superstar slash celebrity slash endorsement queen?  Maybe retirement.  Maria has made comments that she doesn’t plan to play tennis for her another decade.  She’s said she would like to follow the lead of Justine Henin and retire young so she can pursue other life goals.  That means that sponsors who wish to align their brand with the top earning female athlete on the planet better hurry up.  Maria Sharapova is in her prime as an endorsement star, but there may not be that many years left for advertisers to sign her if she decides to follow her dreams to raise a family.

Maria Sharapova commercial for Canon:

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Athletes, Endorsement Deals, Endorsement Profile | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Endorsement Profile: Tiger Woods

Posted by ZA on December 3, 2009

Athlete: Tiger Woods
Sport: Golf
League: PGA
Agent: Mark Steinberg (IMG)
Age: 33 (December 30, 1975)
Rank in SI’s 50 richest athletes:  1st
Endorsement value:  $105,000,000.00

Tiger Woods endorsement deals (thru Nov. 2009):
* AT&T
* Gatorade (Pepsico)
* Gillette (Procter & Gamble)
* EA Sports (Electronic Arts)
* NetJets
* Nike Golf
* Tag Heuer
* TLC Vision Corporation
* Upper Deck

Tiger Woods endorsement potential:
Tiger Woods is the top athlete endorser in the world today.  He is the Cadillac of athlete endorsements (even if he occasionally drives erratically in his own Escalade).  Every major corporation wants him, but few can afford him.  Woods has even surged past sports brand icon Michael Jordan in-terms of earnings; Tiger is first athlete in sports to earn more than $1 billion dollars in their career.  Much of that money comes from the rich endorsement deals that Tiger has had for over a decade.

Tiger’s endorsement history is legendary, starting with a $40 million contract from Nike when he turned pro in 1996.  Tiger basically made Nike Golf what it is today and Phil Knight rewarded him handsomely with a $100 million extension in 2006.  Tiger has become the driving force behind Nike Golf, even as they have added other big name golfers to their endorsement stable (i.e.- Stewart Cink, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard).  Woods is a poster boy for their product line, having dropped his lucrative Titleist sponsorship when he switched to play a Nike golf ball.

Much of Woods appeal as an endorsement star has to do with his phenomenal ability on the golf course.  Tiger grabbed the sport of golf by the throat and has not yet let go; in a sport with some of the biggest endorsement stars on the planet (Phil Mickelson, Arnold Palmer) Tiger is the king.  It only helps that golf’s demographic is one that appeals to the bluest of blue chip companies; businesses that want their product featured (by Tiger Woods) to that affluent golf crowd.  Tiger’s so marketable that even his caddy, Steve Williams, has grabbed endorsement deals with Nike and Valvoline.  Let that sink in for a second…even Tiger Woods’ caddy has major corporations paying him money to endorse their product.

Perhaps the truest test of Tiger Woods endorsement appeal is understood by looking at the list of corporations that he used to endorse.  Tiger’s former deals with Accenture, American Express, Buick, General Mills, Titleist and Rolex would be the envy of most athletes, yet Woods has just moved on to bigger, more lucrative deals.

Tiger Woods has truly changed the game in-terms of endorsement deals.  Like Jordan did before him, Woods seeks out “business partnerships” rather than just contractual endorsement deals.  He is setting the standard today on how athletes and sponsors partner up.  His deals are making sports stars, like Tiger, more money from corporate sponsors than they have ever earned before.

Tiger Woods commercial for Nike Golf:

[Edit: Accenture dropped their endorsement deal with Tiger Woods in December 2009 – a few days after this post]

Posted in Endorsement Deals, Endorsement Profile, Gatorade, Golf, Nike, Sports Brands | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Will Dwight Howard be next big sports pitchman?

Posted by ZA on June 4, 2009

AdAge article on Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard says he is already a “dominant force” in the sports endorsement world.  One of the experts interviewed feels Howard’s endorsement appeal ranks just behind of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.  They cite his youth, charisma and good character as positive attributes that make him attractive to companies looking for someone to endorse their product.

I agree that Howard brings a lot to the table; his personality definitely stands out in the T-mobile commercials he is doing with Wade and Charles Barkley.  But I think some of the opinions in the article that Howard is the next big NBA endorsement star are a bit premature.  Howard needs to win a championship and become the undisputed star on his own team before I’m willing to put him in the top 3 endorsers in the league.

The NBA is full of young stars that are full of charisma (e.g.- Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose), so Howard is not unique in possessing those traits.  At one point experts were saying that Greg Oden would be the next big star endorser in the NBA, and that has not panned out.  So I’m going to take a wait and see approach with Dwight Howard.  If he steps up during the NBA Finals he has a chance to prove himself the main star on his own team and get a ring.  Both of those things happen and I’m comfortable saying that a (endorsement) star is born.  If Kobe Bryant and his Lakers take down Howard, or Howard is not the focal point of his own team’s efforts, then I think he’s not quite ready for the praise heaped on him by some in the AdAge article.

Dwight Howard endorsement deals:
* Adidas
* DC Comics
* McDonald’s
* Milk Processor Board (“Got Milk” campaign)
* T-Mobile
* Vitaminwater (Glaceau)
* Warner Brothers
* Wrigley

Posted in Athletes, Endorsement Deals, Endorsement Profile, NBA | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Endorsement Profile: Lewis Hamilton

Posted by ZA on November 5, 2008

Athlete: Lewis Hamilton
Sport: Auto Racing
League: Formula One
Team: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Manager: Anthony Hamilton (Father of Lewis)
Age: 23 (January 7, 1985)
Rank in SI’s 50 richest athletes: 11th (International version)
Endorsement value: Over $20 million per year…and about to go up.

Lewis Hamilton from

Lewis Hamilton from

Lewis Hamilton endorsement deals (thru Nov. 2008):
* Bombardier Jets (non-cash, trade deal)
* Johnny Walker Whisky (Team sponsor)
* Mobil (Team sponsor)
* Reebok
* Santander Bank (Team sponsor)
* Vodaphone (Team sponsor)

Hamilton has just begun on his journey to endorsement riches, and he’s already a major player.  The majority of his endorsements are come from car sponsors that pay his racing team, McLaren.  But when Hamilton ventured out to sign his first individual endorsement deal, he hit the jackpot.  Reebok signed Hamilton to a huge contract and agreed to pay him more than $20 million (US) dollars.  He is currently in negotiations with several global brands, including Pepsi and Sony, and will most likely sign six or more deals of that magnitude.

Lewis Hamilton’s endorsement potential:
Lewis Hamilton’s endorsement potential is off the charts.  Many are already predicting he could become the highest earning athlete of all-time, and that was before he captured his first Formula One World Championship at the age of 23.  He’s a young guy, who is popular with the ladies, and comes from a multi-racial background.  Plus he just burst on to the scene in his global sport, Formula One, and has already assumed the top position.  Sound like another famous athlete?  Yes, he does often get comparisons to Tiger Woods.  Woods is predicted to be the first athlete to earn a billion dollars, and Hamilton might just out earn him.

For companies looking to Lewis Hamilton to endorse their product, the only real drawbacks are that he participates in a very dangerous sport.  Even with the advancements made in safety, there is a risk at every race that a driver could be seriously injured or killed.  That type of risk will give pause to any company looking to give Hamilton tens of millions of dollars.  The other issue is Hamilton’s heavy responsible to promote the products of McLaren team sponsors, which could limit the time he spends promoting his personal endorsement deals.  Although sponsors shouldn’t get too preoccupied with those drawbacks, as Formula One legend Michael Schumacher had a healthy career until recently retiring at age 37.  Brands love finding sports endorsers who have the opportunity to compete at the top of their sport for many, many years.  Which Lewis Hamilton is sure to do.
Lewis Hamilton 5-star endorsement rating: 5.0

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Endorsement Deals, Endorsement Profile, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing | 3 Comments »

Endorsement Profile: Lebron James

Posted by ZA on October 27, 2008

Athlete: Lebron James
Sport: Basketball
League: NBA
Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Agent: Maverick Carter (LRMR Marketing – Lebron’s marketing company)
Age: 23 (December 30, 1984)
Rank in SI’s 50 richest athletes: 3rd
Endorsement value: $28,000,000

Lebron James photo from

Lebron James photo from

Lebron James endorsement deals (thru Oct. 2008):
* Bubblicious
* Cannondale Bicycle Company
* Coca-Cola (Coke, Sprite & Vitaminwater)
* Cub Cadet
* Nike
* State Farm Insurance
* Upper Deck

LeBron James signed his first endorsement deal with Upper Deck in the Spring semester of his Senior year in high school.  Durant was finished with high school and waiting for the NBA draft when he signed the five-year deal valued at one million per season.  Hours later James would sign the richest shoe endorsement deal that any NBA rookie had ever signed.  Nike signed LeBron to a $90 million endorsement contract narrowly beating out Adidas, which was the sponsor of James high school team.  LeBron signed endorsement deals with a range of other top companies, including the Coca-Cola Corporation.  James has endorsed a slew of Coke products, starting with Powerade and eventually moving to Vitaminwater and now Coca-Cola.  During the 2008 Beijing Olympics Coca-Cola ran a global advertising campaign that featured LeBron and China’s Yao Ming.

LeBron James’ endorsement potential:
LeBron James is arguably the best basketball player on the planet.  He is beloved in the United States and across the globe.  LeBron has already led his team to the NBA Finals and been named All-NBA 1st Team twice.  He is virtual lock for the NBA Hall of Fame and a place in the conversation about the best forwards of all-time. 

LeBron is a truly transcendent athlete, and his endorsement potential reflects that.  Not only is King James a sports star, he is entertainment superstar.  LeBron has graced the cover of magazines from Sports Illustrated to Vogue.  He has done things in the entertainment world that few athletes ever have, like host Saturday Night Live and the ESPY Awards (with Jimmy Kimmel).  LeBron James star shines brightly and should continue to for many years to come.

LeBron James 5-star endorsement rating: 5

LeBron James commercial for Powerade:

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Athletes, Endorsement Deals, Endorsement Profile, NBA, Nike, Sports Brands | 7 Comments »

Endorsement Profile: Kevin Durant

Posted by ZA on October 14, 2008

Athlete: Kevin Durant
Sport: Basketball
League: NBA
Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
Agent: Aaron Goodwin (Goodwin Management Group)
Age: 20 (September 29, 1988)
Rank in SI’s 50 richest athletes: 13
Endorsement value: $21,650,000

Kevin Durant photo from

Kevin Durant photo from

Kevin Durant endorsement deals (thru Oct. 2008):
* EA Sports
* Gatorade
* Nike
* Upper Deck

Durant’s first endorsement deal was with Upper Deck.  Durant’s deal with Nike was well publicized because he reportedly turned down a more lucrative deal with Adidas (rumored at $70 million) to sign with the Swoosh.  The reason?  He said he’s worn Nike his entire life and wants to create more affordable line of shoes, priced between $69 and $79 per pair.  Durant signed a 7-year, $60 million deal with Nike in 2007, that included a $12 million dollar signing bonus.  Durant was the first NBA rookie to ever be selected to endorse Gatorade.

Kevin Durant’s endorsement potential:
Kevin Durant is an extremely talented basketball player, many are comparing him to Scottie Pippen but with a better offensive game.  Recall Pippen was voted one of the top 50 NBA players of all-time and won multiple NBA championships; so that is high praise for young Durant.  Durant also possesses a humble attitude and stays out of trouble.  Comes off as a little shy, but that’s almost refreshing when compared to many of today’s more egotistical athletes.

The ceiling is extremely high for Durant, if he keeps on his current path he’ll be one of the top pitchmen in the NBA.  He’s already lined up some of the premiere deals available for a basketball star, and KD is following in the endorsement foot steps of his idol Michael Jordan.  Gatorade & Nike were the cornerstones of MJ’s endorsement empire, and Durant has already locked in to both.  With a strong NBA sophomore campaign I expect he’ll land a new slew of deals that could include fast food and vehicle endorsements.  Keep an eye out for him and Greg Oden to do some work together in commercials in the future.  Oden and Durant shared the stage at the 2007 NBA draft, so it’s a natural to pair them up on some deals.

Kevin Durant 5-star endorsement rating: 4.5

Kevin Durant best commercial (NBA Stores):

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Athletes, Endorsement Deals, Endorsement Profile, Nike, Sports Brands | 2 Comments »