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.