Besides their huge wages for playing, sports stars have other methods of generating income – one of which is endorsements.
The colossal stars such as Messi (Adidas) and Ronaldo (Nike) even have their own signature football boots and clothing range. Most footballers would choose their favourite brand or possibly the brand that offers them the best monetary incentive to wear their boot while on the pitch. Generally they would have an endorsement contract that outlines: they must at all times wear the most up to date boots that suit your position. It may also include a clause that you can’t wear competing brands clothing off of the pitch; you wouldn’t see Ronaldo wearing an Adidas snap back at an interview would you?
A player can demand a higher price from a company depending on their popularity and their status amongst the top players, but other factors to be considered would be exclusivity and likeability.
Consider the example of Roger Federer. He lends his name to very few brands, but does so to brands of high quality such as Rolex and Nike. Therefore, he commands a higher price as his name is considered to be exclusive. Annually he receives over $40 million in endorsements. On the other end of the spectrum, you have David Beckham who lends and has lent his image rights or endorsed everything and anything including Adidas, H&M, Sainsbury’s, Samsung and even Sharpe Pens. Beckham receives $42 million a year from endorsements. It seems that a sports star can decide to take many different approaches to endorsements.
Likeability is another factor that influences a sports stars ability to make money by endorsements. Andy Murray is without doubt one of the best tennis players in the world. However, his personality can be described as humdrum or dull, and as a result, in comparison to Federer, he only (yes only) receives in the region of $5 million.
On the other hand, Mario Balotelli couldn’t buy a goal on his current form, but he has an endearing personality, as well as a cocky attitude. The circus that is his life means he is always in the news or being discussed, and because of this he has his own signature boots and clothing with Puma. His endorsements amount to nearly $7 million annually.
David De Gea, who is currently Manchester United’s goalkeeper, has had an outstanding year between the sticks for the Red Devils. He has solidified himself amongst the best goal keepers in the world with his performances this season and has attracted the attention of Real Madrid. At the top of his game and playing for one of the world’s most popular clubs, De Gea, in this writer’s opinion, would not come cheap to secure his services for a brand. But De Gea doesn’t seem to have secured one endorsement deal but two, thus in turn reuniting a family.
De Gea has decided to wear Adidas Predator Zone Goalkeeping gloves and Puma EvoSpeed 1.3 football boots, which is a strange decision considering most goal keepers with his status would have the same brand for both their boots and gloves. Previously, De Gea was signed with Nike and wore both their boots and gloves. He first changed his boots to Puma when they recruited a host of players such as the aforementioned Balotelli, and fellow United player Falcao. For a period he then continued to wear his Nike gloves but dropped them earlier in the season for German giants Adidas.
A goalkeeper wearing different brand boots to gloves is not something new but with the coverage such items get in modern times with websites like globalbootspotting.com dedicated to bring you news on who wears what, it is becoming less common. This is made even more of a strange occurrence considering the history of both of these German brands. In 1924, brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler started a sports shoe company called Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory).
It had reasonable success locally, but the breakthrough for the brothers came at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 where they gave athletes spiked shoes for various events. The brothers were operating out of the back of their car at this stage until U.S. sprinter Jesse Owens managed 4 gold medals while wearing their design. From there they sold nearly 400,000 pairs of shoes before World War II.
However there was a growing rift between the brothers who were competing for control over the company. This all came to a head when both brothers’ families found themselves in the same bunker during an allies bombing raid during WWII. Adolf commented “the bastards are back again”, referring to the allied forces, but Rudolf was convinced he was commenting on his family. Then when Rudolf was arrested for being suspected of being a member of the S.S. Hitler’s elite army (which he was found not to be), he was convinced it was his brother Adolf who had accused him of this. The company split in 1947 and the brothers became fierce rivals.
Adolf formed a company called Adidas (ADI DASsler), and Rudolf went on to form his own company called Ruda (RUdolf DAssler) later rebranded to Puma. This rivalry is like nothing you could imagine – the town of Herzogenaurach where the brothers were from was even split on the issue. The town had two football teams: one sponsored by Adi and the other by Rudolf.
When Rudolf was having work done on his house, the builders would wear Adidas shoes on purpose to see if he would notice, and if he did he made them take them off and gave them his Puma shoes. The brothers went on to battle it out to sign top stars to wear their boots and shoes.
Before the 1970 World Cup however, things were getting out of hand and the sons of the two brothers decided to meet (the brothers refused to meet). They came to an agreement that neither company would approach Pele to wear their boots, this was known as “The Pele Pact.” But Puma did a secret deal with the Brazilian, rumoured to be in excess of $100,000 which at the time was huge money.
Pele wore a little known English companies boots called Stylo for the tournament, until the final that is. Prior to kick off, Pele asked the referee for a moment to tie his laces. The world was watching as Pele bent over to tie his Puma boots thus driving a further rift in the family.
This rivalry came to a fore during the 1974 World Cup. Dutch legend and three time Ballon d’Or winner Johan Cruyff had signed a deal with Puma to wear their Puma King football boots. However, the Dutch national team’s jersey was produced by Adidas. Cruyff refused to wear the Adidas jersey and went so far as to have his own jersey made with two stripes on the sleeve and absent of the Adidas symbol. He went on to produce his own Dutch jersey with 2 stripes and his name on the back with 14. This brand loyalty and bitter rivalry continues to this day.
De Gea however, is the first player that this writer has seen who has brought these brothers together again. Although both companies are now public companies, there is still involvement from both families and they are still involved in this great rivalry. As a result, De Gea seems to be pocketing from both companies. This writer is unsure as to whether this is beneficial to his bank balance or not, but if he played his cards right, you can be sure that Dave saves both off and on the pitch. De Gea may be on his way to Real Madrid, but maybe he should consider a career in family therapy as he seems determined to reunite this family.
Alex Kirwan, Pundit Arena