Thursday 18 January 2018

AdLib: McIlroy leads way for sponsorship

Media & Marketing with Michael Cullen

Maria Sharapova who is still being paid by sponsors despite her ban
Maria Sharapova who is still being paid by sponsors despite her ban

Michael Cullen

Golfer Rory McIlroy is "the only British entry" in the top 10 list compile by researchers at the London School of Marketing for its latest Sports Marketing Power List - despite being Irish not British.

The league tots up last year's sponsorship deals involving major international athletes. McIlroy's sponsorship earnings are put at just under £29m (€33.6m) for 2016, making him the 27-year-old the world's sixth-highest paid athlete.

World number one tennis player Andy Murray and Wales and Real Madrid midfielder Gareth Bale make the top 30, with deals worth just under £12m (€14m) and £9m (€10.4m) respectively. Tennis stars feature prominently in the LSM survey, with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams all qualifying.

Sharapova and Williams were the only two women athletes to make the top 30. Although Sharapova was banned last January by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for using the banned substance meldonium, she still earned £16m (€18.5m) due to contract clauses which oblige sponsors to keep paying fees. She appears in ads for Tag Heuer watches and Head rackets.

Switzerland's Roger Federer is the world's most marketable athlete taking almost £50m (€58m) in off-court earnings last year. Federer fronts for Nike, Rolex, Mercedes-Benz, Credit Suisse, Lindt and Moet & Chandon.

Brands like Coca-Cola, Kia and Samsung forked out £44m (€51m) on basketball star LeBron James last year. US golfer Phil Mickelson completed the top three on the LSM power list, taking home £41m (€47.6m) in marketing deals last year.

London School of Marketing (LSM) says the three international sports most reliant on commercial deals are cricket, with 81pc of earnings coming from sponsors, tennis on 78pc and golf on 75pc. Unsurprisingly, the US dominates the most highly paid sports with American football, basketball and baseball accounting for 55pc of all revenue.

The top 100 athletes earned £2.6bn last year. Sponsorship revenues are driven upwards by competing sports clothing brands. Nike has 51 stars under contract, Adidas has 12 and Under Armour 11. Reebok, Puma and New Balance have a handful each. Male athletes still dominate, perhaps because they offer advantages to marketers hoping to tap into the elusive male consumer aged 16 to 30.


* As the UEFA Champions League's official snacks partner, PepsiCo's Walkers crisps is rolling out a consumer competition for football fans.

Called 'A Game of 5,400 Seconds', it invites entrants to guess the second they think the first goal will be scored in tournament games. The entrant who gives the exact or nearest second for the opening goal wins a Uefa Champions League quarter-final or final ticket, with flights and accommodation.

The free competition runs from the start of February until May 10. To enter, entrants go in-store to get the five-digital text number on Walkers crisps promotional packets. Round one kicks-off on February 1 and entrants must correctly predict the exact time when the opening goal will be scored in the Arsenal-Bayern Munich second leg at the Emirates on March 7.


* Agency strategist, writer and podcaster Sean Boyle has returned to Dublin from Dallas and is currently involved in assignments at DDFH&B.

Arguably Ireland's most widely travelled adman, Boyle has worked with all but one of the world's global networks, Interpublic, based in Europe, the Far East, China, Australia and the US. His clients included Nestle and P&G.

Q The fallout from TV3's purchase of UTV Ireland, sees the broadcaster's former commercial director, Daragh Byrne, become chief commercial officer at Niall McGarry's Maximum Media, whose online brands include and

He was also on the board of TAM for two years. Ronan O'Donoghue is now head of brand partnerships and client relations at the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), having held a similar role at UTV Ireland.


* Ireland's biggest marketing conference returns to the Aviva Stadium on March 8. Hosted by the Marketing Institute (MII), DMX Dublin will see 40 speakers and 800 or so delegates debate marketing and media matters from a digital perspective.

Among the speakers lined up so far are Cosmopolitan editor Farrah Storr and Patricia Cafferty, a qualitative consultant at Research Stories in London.

Speakers from closer to home include Tourism Ireland's Mark Henry, Zara Flynn, who heads up Guns or Knives, and food blogger James Kavanagh. Organiser Marie Therese Campbell says early bird tickets are priced at €250 for MII members and €350 for non-members. The Irish Independent is conference media partner.

Michael Cullen is editor of;

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