As a follow up to my previous post about the richest athletes, I came across an interesting article written in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge. Professor Anita Elberse discusses her research on sports marketing and her recent case on Russian tennis superstar Maria Sharapova. What is the secret recipe for her phenomenal success?
- There are few female athletes with global marketing appeal (basically shes doesn’t have a lot of competition)
- Having the right combination of brand attributes (e.g. Canon=power with precision and style)
- Public speaking skills
- Good look
- Overall clean image
It does not hurt that Sharapova is regarded as one of the most beautiful athletes in the world. But when I had the opportunity to follow her for a day of sponsorship and other commitments in New York City, I also learned she is a business professional and comfortable speaking in front of various groups; it’s easy to forget she is still only 20 years old.
Every time I see Sharapova on TV, whether it is an interview or blowing kisses to the crowd, I get an impression that all her moves and words are perfectly choreographed by managers/agents/consultants. I am sure she is a smart woman, but it is hard to get an understanding what the real Maria thinks, likes or feels.
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