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Volume 21 No. 43
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Gatorade gets a dose of Hope in new deal

Hope Solo will join Gatorade’s powerful promotional arsenal after signing a multiyear marketing deal with the beverage company.

The Gatorade deal marks the second major endorsement for the standout goalie who helped the U.S. women’s national team finish second in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Earlier this month, she joined teammates Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan in signing one-year deals with Bank of America.

U.S. women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo saw her awareness number soar during the Women’s World Cup.
A Gatorade representative would not reveal how they intend to use the 30-year-old Solo in the company’s marketing, confirming only that Solo is part of Gatorade’s push to diversify its athlete base. The company recently signed deals with U.S. men’s goalie Tim Howard, swimmer Ryan Lochte and female surfer Coco Ho.

Industry sources peg the deal in the low six-figure range per year.

Richard Motzkin of Wasserman Media Group, who has represented Solo for 10 years, said he and Gatorade began discussing a possible deal before the World Cup started, but he described interest in her after the World Cup as “staggering.” He hinted that more individual deals are on the horizon, but would not discuss details.

“Being on the cover of Sports Illustrated helped her awareness with the general public,” Motzkin said. “She has an opportunity to become well-known not just in the soccer scene, but in the public mainstream as well.”

Motzkin said that Solo’s followers on Twitter jumped from 8,000 to more than 250,000 in little over a week, and compared Solo’s surge in popularity to that of former U.S. midfielder Mia Hamm, who rose to prominence after the U.S. women won the 1999 World Cup.

Of the national team players, Solo, Wambach and Morgan have garnered the most mainstream attention in the wake of the team’s loss to Japan in the World Cup finals. Wambach and Solo appeared on the “Late Show” with David Letterman, and Solo and Morgan attended the New York City premiere for the final season of the hit HBO show “Entourage.” The three inked one-year deals with Bank of America to serve as spokeswomen for a charity surrounding the Chicago Marathon.

Gatorade has sponsored the U.S. women’s national team since 1999, and has had an individual deal with Wambach since 2004.

Bill Glenn, senior vice president of marketing and strategies with The Marketing Arm, said Solo’s marketing numbers on its Davie Brown Index (DBI) put her on par with Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade. According to Glenn’s research, Solo’s overall awareness jumped from 21.4 percent to 28.0 percent in the period between the team’s quarterfinals victory over Brazil and its loss to Japan. However, her endorsement value dropped from a score of 72.3 to 66.7 during that period.

“You could summarize that the loss did have an impact on how consumers view [Solo] in key attributes like aspiration and influence,” Glenn said. “But as they gain more exposure, I wouldn’t say [the loss] will significantly affect her marketing.”

Doug Shabelman, president of Burns Entertainment, said Solo’s combination of leadership, success on the field, physical attractiveness and a recognizable name give her an opportunity to maintain marketability after attention in women’s soccer cools. “She’s the goalie, which is a showcase in individualism,” Shabelman said. “It sets her up nicely to be a spokesperson or follow up with a career in broadcasting.”

Solo is continuing to play for the WPS magicJack team in South Florida.