SBD/July 19, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

World Cup Loss May Have Cost U.S. Players $10M In Endorsements

Will U.S. World Cup loss cost Wambach (l), Solo big marketing opportunities?
The U.S. women's soccer team “might have just left $10 million in endorsements on the table after Sunday's shocking loss to Japan” in the FIFA Women's World Cup Final, according to Rich Thomaselli of AD AGE. U.S. F Abby Wambach and G Hope Solo were “likely the biggest endorsement losers." Both players “were looking at $3 million to $4 million a year in marketing deals -- a modest sum predicted by sports marketing experts but still a decent amount for a sport that has had trouble sustaining roots with the American public.” The experts said that another $2M “could collectively be brought in by remainder of the team.” Baker Street Advertising Exec VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman said, "The defeat cost the U.S. women some heavy endorsement dollars, but I don't think it's a total loss. The final was an epic match, it likely drew a huge audience, and it made household names of Wambach, Solo and (Alex) Morgan" (ADAGE.com, 7/18). Dorfman added that Sunday’s loss “makes it a bit tougher for the players to move up in the world of sports marketing deals.” Dorfman: “I heard there were some marketers who were planning on using them but decided not to because of the loss. Everyone loves winners” (USA TODAY, 7/19).

RESIDUAL EFFECTS: In L.A., David Wharton writes the Women’s World Cup “provided enough drama to boost the Q score of the two biggest personalities” on the U.S. roster: Wambach and Solo. Wambach “developed into a fiery leader,” as television shots of Wambach “encouraging her teammates, hollering, veins popping out, confirmed her role on the national squad.” Solo came into the tournament “recognized as the world's top goalkeeper but won a new legion of fans with a dramatic turnaround against Brazil” in the quarterfinals (L.A. TIMES, 7/19). In Miami, Michelle Kaufman writes Solo “became a household name over the past few weeks.” She went “from 10,000 Twitter followers to nearly 200,000.” She and Wambach “are scheduled to appear on ‘Late Show With David Letterman’ on Tuesday night” (MIAMI HERALD, 7/19). Solo also appears on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated (THE DAILY). Solo appeared on ESPN's "SportsCenter" this morning and was asked what her plans were for the immediate future. She said, “I still have a World Cup to win ... and it’s not like I have time for all this entertainment, crazy rock star status buzz because ... there’s so much going on in my professional career.” Maksim Chmerkovskiy, a member of the "Dancing With The Stars" cast, has campaigned for Solo to be a contestant on the show. Solo said, "He’s crazy. First off, I can’t dance. Secondly, I can barely walk in high heels. He would have quite a challenge if he got his hands on me, I can assure. Plus, two fiery personalities, we might be going at it” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 7/19).

RAUCOUS RECEPTION: The U.S. team today made appearances on all three network morning shows following their World Cup run. Wambach said, “The bitter part is obviously not winning and not bringing home a Cup for our country. The sweet part is the reception that we’ve gotten all across this nation. We got back here to Times Square yesterday, couldn’t believe the crowds. It was amazing and honestly, as tough as it is to lose, it’s making us all feel a little bit better just knowing how much this country supported us” (“GMA,” ABC, 7/19). Solo said, “We showed America everything that they finally wanted to see in a final.” NBC’s Ann Curry added, “You should also take away from this a transcendent moment that you’ve created. … This was a victory for women’s soccer” (“Today,” NBC, 7/19). Wambach and F Lauren Cheney also appeared on CBS’ “The Early Show” this morning (THE DAILY). USA TODAY’s Aimee Berg notes the U.S. women’s team bus “rolled into midtown Manhattan” yesterday to "supportive shouts from tourists and a sea of cellphone cameras." U.S. MF Heather O’Reilly: “I didn’t expect to pull into Times Square and have this kind of reception” (USA TODAY, 7/19). Meanwhile, REUTERS' Alastair Himmer notes the Japan team received the "rock star treatment on Tuesday on their return from an astonishing World Cup triumph." The team arrived to a "media crush of around 300 reporters" (REUTERS, 7/19).

LITTLE IMPACT ON GROWTH OF GAME: CNBC’s Darren Rovell said the U.S. team's performance during the World Cup “won’t affect” the growth of women’s soccer in the U.S. that much. Rovell: “This was more about -- when you look at the ratings -- the stakes and nationalism and less about the game of women’s soccer. People were watching it because they knew there was a lot on the line, but not watching it because they loved soccer” (“OTL,” ESPN, 7/18). CSNBayArea.com's Ray Ratto said, "We as a sporting culture are event-driven more than we are sport-driven, and this was an event.” In a week, fans will not have members of the U.S. team "on their minds." Ratto: "They’ll try to monetize them and market them, but no, the event is over. The moment was magic. The moment’s over” (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN, 7/18).
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