Does the Athlete Make the Brand, or the Brand the Athlete?

2012 is a year for sports, Charlie Sheen’s much needed rehabilitation, and more sports!

With Rafa Nadal winning the French Open (it’s a big deal!!) and the London Olympics just around the corner, all this hoopla brings images of world famous athletes on every street corner/bus/car out there. A majority of these advertisements and media placements feature A-list athletes, like the almighty Williams sisters and the suave Federer. It’s no new phenomenon that big brands like having sports personalities as their ambassadors. Why not? They’re physically fit, they have a large following, and are comfortable in front of the camera. All these endorsement deals and what not, you could even say that athletes themselves are becoming brands. For some consumers, all it takes is an athlete’s name on an item to make that purchase. Some celebrities Imagemme has deemed worthy enough to be considered brands..

David Beckham

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From H&M to scoring one of the biggest endorsement deals of all time with Adidas, David Beckham truly has the Midas touch. When he started wearing a particular brand of cleats earlier on his career, the kids went wild and everyone bought a pair. With the folks at Addidas worried they’d snaffle up the soccer superstar, he is under contract for $4 million per annum. Pretty decent deal I’d say. Outside his sports career, Beckham is also a bit of sex symbol, especially known for his risqué appearance in those Calvin Klein ads.

Serena and Venus Williams

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These girls put the ten in tennis! Before the Williams sisters, tennis wasn’t nearly as glamorous, with female players merely sporting the traditional white tennis outfit. The Williams sisters changed all that with their larger than life personalities and wardrobe decisions. Winning a combined $64 million over the course of their careers, the Williams sisters have seen deals from Puma, Nike, among other big names in sports. In addition, Serena was also featured in Sports Illustrated on more than one occasion. You go girls!

Rafael Nadal

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Not everyone gets to star in a Shakira music video. Just passing Federer as top earner, Nadal also has the ability to sell just about anything. Currently, Nadal has 9 sponsors, which include the likes of perfume brand, Inter Parfums Inc., and Nike. A bigger figure in Europe, Nadal’s “brand’ is starting to really translate over here in the states.

Michael Phelps

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This Olympic superman is expected to dominate in London and in the world of advertising. Appearing in advertisements for Subway and Kellogs, Phelps is no stranger to the public eye. His endorsement value is said to be well over $50 million and during the last Olympic games, there was a bidding war between sportswear brands to get his face on anything. It’s good to be Michael Phelps!

Obviously, there is a limitless number of athletes who also come as brands. Which athlete would you consider to be your favorite “brand”?

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