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Sharapova Signs With Gatorade

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Sharapova Signs With Gatorade:
Maria Sharapova has endorsement deals with Nike , Land Rover, Tag Heuer, Canon , Motorola and Colgate . But I always thought she was missing the drink category. That will change likely tomorrow when PepsiCo is expected to announce a deal with the 19-year-old tennis beauty.

Gatorade has endorsement deals with the likes of NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, big-time NBA stars in Yao Ming, Dwyane Wade, Vince Carter and Kevin Garnett and NFL quarterback Peyton Manning (and apparently his brother, Eli, who they recently added to their Web site). But they've never really had a sports woman as powerful as Sharapova -- that includes Mia Hamm, who made a memorable commercial with Michael Jordan. The names -- Diana Taurasi, Kerri Walsh and Abby Wambach -- don't really do much to move the needle. That's why they get paid peanuts (probably a little bit more than free Gatorade) to do the deal.

Sharapova's deal is about as much as you can make in this sports drink market, where outside of LeBron James -- who gets paid $2 million a year to endorse Coke's Sprite and POWERade brands -- there are very few who can make more than $350,000 a year. Why? Because Gatorade execs believe -- as they very well should -- that only so many athletes can actually help sell more of the product at the 80 percent U.S. market share Gatorade currently commands.

Sources say Sharapova will be the first global female face for Gatorade and Tropicana and will get paid nearly $1 million a year to endorse the products; and it's expected that they will now do more with tennis besides branding the courtside drink bin.

Nike blasted through with "I Feel Pretty," and Canon's Powershot ad - with tennis balls following Sharapova was also a classic, but as Sharapova signs more partners it will get harder and harder for companies to come up with memorable creative for her. That being said, the partners are truly blue-chip with great ad firms and I'm betting that Gatorade's firm, Element 79, can dream up something that will truly make the association top of mind with consumers.

The bottom line? Sharapova will do much more outside the United States where Gatorade doesn't have the stronghold it has here in America and purchasing decisions will be made more on marketing than stateside.

Hot Market:


One of the greatest examples of the hot market merchandise market was this guy who was selling Chicago Bears schedule t-shirts as the team was going through the season undefeated. His market suddenly cooled of course when they lost to Miami in Week 8. He has tried to recover by dropping the price of the t-shirts from $16 to $9 and changing his Web site from Sixteenstraight.com to CheckTheWins.com. But losing to the lowly Green Bay Packers this week probably didn’t help his cause. Anyway, another hot market that will cool this week and next, is fired coaches t-shirts. But while the folks at FireThatGuy.com will have to discount their fire Dennis Green gear - since the Cardinals coach got canned yesterday - they’ll hope that they can make it up with the New York market, which is active with Fire Isiah (Thomas) and Fire (Tom) Coughlin.

New Motto:
The Detroit Lions had a great win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, but it cost them the No. 1 pick, which will now go to the Oakland Raiders. This has led to a new motto in Oakland -- “Just Quinn, Baby.” That’s of course referring to Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, who just might be taken first overall by the Raiders.

Marketing of Jordan:
Michael Jordan and his wife have called it quits after a 17-year marriage. The timing of the announcement, just a couple days before the end of the year, was best for Jordan -- whether it was planned or not -- because coverage was pretty much as sparse as it could be. So how will this affect Jordan’s marketability? Not a bit. He’s not doing commercials anymore and his royalties rely solely on the legacy and creativity of the Air Jordan and Nike’s ability to stay up on the latest fashion trends with the Jordan brand apparel line.

Drinking With Daisuke:
A couple weeks back, I talked about how Red Sox Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka could potentially sign sponsorship deals that are conflicting with the team sponsorships, thus negating the impact of both companies and how they can capitalize off his success. Well, he has signed his first deal with Asahi Super Dry beer, which I’m sure the folks at Anheuser-Busch are thrilled about. They have pouring rights and, oh yeah, a sign in right field at Fenway.

Great Story in Boise State:
What a game last night from the Boise State Broncos, who beat Oklahoma in overtime, 43-42. If you haven’t seen highlights from this one, trust me, it will rank as one of the best games in college football history. Anyway, the Broncos (13-0) proved -- in beating the Sooners -- that perhaps they deserved a chance at playing Ohio State for the National Championship game. Now obviously they can’t win anything now, but I looked up the odds on Boise State to win it all in 2006 and I was really surprised at how low the odds were -- 100-to-1. I would have predicted it would be more like 250-to-1 like Alabama was or 300-to-1 where Arizona State was.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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