Stephens builds global endorsement lineup
U.S. Open tennis champion Sloane Stephens is cashing in on her unexpected triumph last summer, with the star American set to unveil five new endorsement deals in coming weeks. While Stephens is not ascending to the mantle of top-paid female athlete endorser with the new contracts, she is now in the top ranks.
The prize among the endorsements is Mercedes-Benz, which is naming Stephens a global ambassador, a title held by three other athletes: Roger Federer, Louis Hamilton and Rickie Fowler.
“They are going to activate using her at the U.S. Open as Roger continues to age out,” said John Tobias, Stephens’ agent with TLA Worldwide.
Whether the No. 1-ranked Federer is aging out is certainly debatable, as the 36-year-old just renewed with Mercedes, which is also a U.S. Open sponsor. But there is little doubt Stephens is in high demand.
“She just checks a lot of boxes for brands that are multicultural, looking for multicultural angles, female empowerment, that whole wave,” Tobias said. “She is an athlete in the most high-profile sport for women, and it is a global sport.”
Engine Shop advised the luxury car brand on the negotiations. The agency referred questions to Mercedes, which declined comment. As part of her deal, Stephens gets a new car, which is scheduled for delivery this week to her California home.
Stephens had two endemic endorsements before her U.S. Open breakthrough, Under Armour and Head, and now has seven deals overall (Nike replaced Under Armour). Assessing how much a tennis player earns off court is always tricky because contracts are structured to account for performance, but she should earn high seven figures annually now (on-court winnings would likely lift her annual income into the low eight figures). That puts her among female athlete endorsers behind stalwarts like Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and, outside of tennis, Danica Patrick.
Siding with Sloane
• Built with Chocolate Milk
Source: John Tobias, TLA Worldwide
“All girls need a good role model,” said Miranda Abney, marketing director at the milk industry’s Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), which is behind the Built with Chocolate Milk campaign that touts the beverage as a recovery drink, and is unveiling Stephens as its newest spokesperson this week.
“Sloane has really, and pretty recently, lived through recovery through her injury and huge bounce back,” said Abney, referring to the tennis player’s injury in the year before the summer of 2017. “Sloane transcends tennis. If you look at her Instagram feed, she is quite the fashionista, she was in the SI swimsuit issues; this is bigger than the tennis court.”
Stephens, well known for her bright smile, also signed a deal with Colgate toothpaste. Agency Starpower advised the oral care company on the endorsement. The agency referred calls to Colgate, which could not immediately be reached for comment.
Stephens also is announcing a multiyear endorsement with doTerra International, which makes therapeutic body oils. She will be the face of their essential oils line. Tobias reached out to the company because Stephens has long used the oils herself.
The fifth new deal is with Target for its Universal Thread denim line of clothing. She will promote the line via her social media channels as part of the Target Spring Influencer Campaign. Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing represented Target.
Stephens also renewed her deal with Head that Tobias said makes “her and Maria Sharapova the two highest-paid ambassadors” at the racket company.