SBJ/June 4-10, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Wozniacki strips down for underwear, bra line

Tennis star Caroline Wozniacki is unveiling an underwear and bra line this week that will include a major ad campaign airing in Europe.

The tennis star is one of the few female athletes to take a risk and agree to an underwear ad.
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The former No. 1, now ranked ninth, becomes one of the few female athletes to agree to an underwear ad, joining Anna Kournikova, who 12 years ago pushed a sports bra.

Wozniacki’s personal line, created in conjunction with the third-largest underwear maker in the world, JBS, is not designed as sporting wear, a key point for her clothing company, Adidas, which she is set to renew with for another five years.

“The whole premise of the shoot is her in her most intimate moments, alone in her bedroom, or in the bathroom after competition, or getting ready for competition,” said John Tobias, Wozniacki’s agent at Lagardère Unlimited. “This is a girl who turned down SI Swimsuit issue twice, turned down Maxim magazine twice.”

The tag line of the ad is “This is me.”

Male sports stars frequently pose for underwear ads, with recent examples including Tim Tebow, Rafael Nadal and David Beckham. But for women, this has been essentially an off-limits category. That may be changing.

“Increasingly, women athletes off the field are taking a strong and sexy approach,” said Matt Delzell, group account director for The Marketing Arm. He pointed to soccer star Hope Solo, who posed naked though covered on the cover of ESPN The Magazine, and swimmer Amanda Beard, who posed nude for Playboy, as examples of female athletes taking more chances.

Billie Jean King, the women’s tennis pioneer, applauded Wozniacki.

“I don’t think there is any difference for the men or the women,” she said. “The guys have been endorsing underwear for years and if Michael Jordan and Tim Tebow can secure a deal, why can’t Caroline? For women, the challenge is how the product is presented and the athlete should have a voice in that presentation and how they manage their own brand.”

Delzell warned a backlash could come from those who see the ads as conflicting with Wozniacki’s more wholesome image (her nickname on the tour is Sunshine). “It is a risk for her,” he said.

The ads will appear initially in Europe, though the buzz factor likely will get them talked about in this country, where the Dane is less well known.

According to the DBI index, she is known by only 19 percent of U.S. consumers. She ranks in the top 100 (98th of 2,500 celebrities) in DBI’s Aspiration index, on par with celebs like Steven Spielberg and Kelly Clarkson. The Aspiration index measures the degree to which consumers feel the celebrity has a life to which they would aspire.

Wozniacki will receive a guarantee from underwear company JBS, as well as 10 percent to 15 percent royalty on the line. At the same time, she is set to renew with Adidas’ Stella McCartney collection, which she has been wearing for four years now. The new deal largely pays her based on her ranking, but should compensate her in the low to mid-seven figures annually if she remains in the top 10.
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