If you’re watching the Super Bowl just for the commercials, you’re not alone. We’ve been anticipating them since we heard that soccer player David Beckham would be appearing during a second quarter spot to promote his underwear-focused collaboration with H&M, David Beckham Bodywear.
Beckham, who earned a reported $40 million last year, is hardly the first athlete to turn his on-the-field success into off-the-field recognition. Yet he is still soccer’s top endorser thanks in large part to an Adidas deal that pays him royalties from Beckham-branded soccer gear. In fact, star athletes – like Beckham, Maria Sharapova and Tom Brady – often make more money from endorsements and other commercial activities than from their salaries or winnings.
Marketing gurus generally turn to winning athletes who have characteristics they’d like to associate with their brand. For sports brands, endorsements can be easy. After winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps re-signed with Speedo. Nike and Michael Jordan have been inseparable since the first Air Jordans premiered in 1988.
Beyond the sports arena, fashion marketing executives, hoping to tap into a global audience, are likewise often willing to turn to sports stars’ broad appeal. To that end, let’s take look at some of the highest-profile endorsement deals athletes have signed with fashion brands.