Case – Maria Sharapova: Marketing a Champion
Maria Sharapova became a Wimbledon champion at the age of 17. In addition to being a great personal milestone, this championship was also an important phase of tennis career for Sharapova and IMG from a marketing perspective. Her skills and personality, attractive looks, and unique personal story combined into a powerful brand. Her agent, Max Eisenbud, was responsible for handling and growing the brand. Eisenbud pondered how to best market the Sharapova brand while prioritizing the various offers available, keeping in mind her long term goals, and utilizing IMG’s global sales force.
Eisenbud should accept the Motorola offer to enhance Sharapova’s global image. His decision on other offers should be based on her schedule, brand image and long term potential. IMG, the agency Eisenbud works for, already has a talented and global salesforce in place. Eisenbud should work closely with these people to find good offers that can be profitable for Sharapova and the agency while meeting the constraints mentioned above to ensure a win-win situation for everyone.
1. Should Max Eisenbud and the other members of “team Sharapova” engage in the Motorola partnership? Should they consider any other possibilities? Why?
They should engage in the Motorola partnership if it does not interfere with Sharapova’s schedule for training and tournaments. The Razor product will be distributed widely to consumers and reach a global market. Sharapova can get the added benefit of exposure to individuals who have not known her before. In addition, a majority of the audience saw the moment when Sharapova won the championship and called her mom. The scene lingered with the audience and making the commercial based on that could reinforce the glory moment and the close family relationship. It makes Sharapova not only a champion but also a champion with human needs and soul. Even though an apparel endorsement with a sporting goods company is more common for top-ranked women in tennis, the Motorola brand is well-known and would be a good partner to the competitive image of Sharapova.
Here is a review of why she should or should not consider the other opportunities:
• Advertising campaign for a furniture company in U.K. – A furniture company does not work to enhance her brand and Sharapova will probably not want to do it merely for money. The company also requested a six-week advertising campaign in UK which probably affect her practice schedule.
• Luxury goods event in China – The products would play well off of her beauty and could fit into her schedule. In addition, the timing would help her reach the Chinese market which may not know her as well as other markets in Europe and the Americas.
• Personal fragrance license – Her newfound frame make this opportunity worthwhile to have something to call her own. The success she has garnered ensures that this product would at least have a jump start off the ground.
• Launch event in Dublin – The event coincides with some available time in her schedule and is a good opportunity to gain additional publicity. Since she does not have to directly endorse the product, less risk exist in the relationship.
• Luxury goods event endorsement – The endorsement would definitely play well with her beauty image, but the opening of the store in Russia will not work with her schedule. Russian fans may be disappointed by Sharapova’s lack of showing at the store opening and negative press may result. This opportunity is a bit risky since her brand is still developing.
• Skin care treatment endorsement – This opportunity would play along with the beauty of Sharapova. However, being part of a group of celebrities rather than taking center stage may not be beneficial to her image at this point. She may not want the association of being just another pretty face supporting the skin...
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