SBD/August 21, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Sharapova Name-Change Talk Just A Way To Divert Attention From Dropping Connors?

Sources said a name change for Sharapova was never a serious option
Maria Sharapova's potential name change to Sugarpova for the duration of the U.S. Open was a "publicity stunt to divert attention from Sharapova's firing of Jimmy Connors as her coach days before" the start of the tournament, according to the N.Y. POST's Page Six. Sources said that Sharapova changing her name to her line of candy "was never serious, and just a stunt cooked up by Sharapova's team to steer public conversation away" from her dropping Connors. Sources added that the idea was "created to be shot down." However, Sharapova's agent Max Eisenbud denied that, saying, "We were considering this for a while, and (it) would have been very cool, but (we) just could not make it happen" (NYPOST.com, 8/20). SI.com's Courtney Nguyen noted observers "didn’t necessarily need the official denial to know Sharapova was never going to go through with this scheme." Nguyen gives three reasons "why this name-change was simply never going to happen." Sharapova represents several luxury brands, and Nguyen wrote, "You don’t spend nine years building up that brand profile only to decide to engage in some juvenile and hacky publicity stunt to sell candy." It also is "not a simple procedure." Meanwhile, Nike "would have to agree to put the Sugarpova logo on their kit." Most Nike tennis players are not "allowed to put any non-Nike sponsor logos on their Nike-branded kits" (SI.com, 8/20). ESPNW's Jane McManus wrote an "actual publicity stunt like that is beneath" Sharapova. It is "not as if she is trying to establish herself and needs a publicity bump." Sharapova's name "means something -- persistence and a will of steel, a single-mindedness that is both off-putting and admirable." McManus: "What is Sugarpova? It's the definition of selling out" (ESPNW.com, 8/20).

AT LEAST SHE WAS BEING UPFRONT: The GUARDIAN's Marina Hyde writes there was a "certain admirable frankness to Sharapova's money-dash," and her name-change idea "would at least have the virtue of being honest." Hyde: "The sheer artless hilarity of Sugarpova would still be preferable to the stealth trolley dashes that go largely unchided. Do recall that amazing moment when Andy Murray won the US Open last year, and the unedifying spectacle of him appearing to celebrate it not by crowd surfing his way up to the players' box, but by searching frantically for his sponsored watch" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 8/21).
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