Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Federer's "Net Effect" and Tasty Tees


Net Effect?

Roger Federer

I think Roger Federer will be known as the best tennis player ever. The guy just absolutely embarrassed Andy Roddick in the Australian Open semifinals en route to playing in his seventh straight grand slam final. The question for me is, what does this excellence buy him? And by that I mean, how valuable is he as an endorser? It’s always hard to gain a worldly view, but here in the United States, I’m not sure Federer’s name means much.

Rolex pays him about $1.5 million a year to endorse its watches. How many people have bought a Rolex because of Federer? I’d be willing to be that number - in America -- is less than 10 people. It’s not so much a knock against Federer as it is against the state of his sport. The most important demographic that is influenced by athlete endorsements - those 12- to 25-year-olds - just don’t care about tennis. They care about football, basketball and baseball. And the day will never come when U.S. Open brackets will be printed in high school libraries with the frequency of March Madness pool sheets.

But there is someone who thinks Federer would be very valuable as an endorser - that guy is J. Darius Bikoff, the man in charge of Glaceau, maker of VitaminWater. He told CNBC last year that Federer is the one endorser he wants on his client roster. We’re told there’s no news on that front as of yet.

Sticking with VitaminWater, the Super Bowl is there chance to have a nice ambush party on Gatorade since they have Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and the league and the Bears obviously have a deal with Gatorade. But we hear that VitaminWater isn’t planning anything to disruptive - aside from planning to pass out bottles of “No. 54” VitaminWater bottles to media members and have a presentation of specially designed bottles by students at a design and architecture high school in Miami. I’m a bit surprised by this. I thought they’d really try and make some waves here, but maybe the Super Bowl window is just too short.

Speaking of VitaminWater, I’m convinced 2007 is the year that a major beverage company is going to acquire them. If Tata bought 30 percent for $677 million, I suspect a Coca-Cola - the most likely acquirer - would have to pony up north of $2 billion.

Latest In Golf
The best in the golf business are at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando this week. We’re most interested in hearing the buzz on Under Armour’s introduction to the golf world. We’ve only seen a very limited selection on their Web site, but we’re more impressed with the shorts than the shirts. Under Armour is one of five new PGA Tour apparel licensees so some of its items will be branded with the PGA Tour logo.

Some of the two weirdest things coming out of this convention?

Golf tees that come in flavors  -- I never understand how people put tees in their mouths. And something called Advisor, which is a hands-free, voice activated GPS system that is in the brim of a hat. Just ask how far away some sand trap is and it will tell you

Questions?  Comments?