Just when you thought the money in sport could get no more ridiculous, Nike goes and pays $350m (£215m) this week to endorse one basketball player, Kevin Durant.
Why did it pay so much, you ask? Because a new kid’s on the block, bidding up prices. And it’s an increasingly rich kid, too.
Under Armour is a sports brand growing rapidly to take on the likes of Adidas and Nike, the two Goliaths in the sponsorship battles. In the bidding to slap its logo on Durant, chief executive Kevin Plank chuckles, he shocked Nike by trumping its first $200m bid, meaning the daddy of sportswear had to stump up the extra 150 big ones. “Do I take pleasure in that they paid $150m more than they planned on paying? Absolutely,” he tells Bloomberg.
It was almost but not quite again for Under Armour in the auction to appear on Manchester United’s shirts. Adidas won that round, stumping up £750m in July in a price again driven up by Mr Plank’s XXL bids.
But on Thursday, just days after losing out on Durant, he signed the fitness fanatic supermodel Gisele Bündchen, who’s married to the American Football star (and Under Armour promoter) Tom Brady.
It was a clever move. Ms Bündchen’s global A-list status extends the appeal of Under Armour’s yoga gear to women, and her fitness prowess has made for an extremely cool ad campaign. Meanwhile, the brand’s link with her hubby creates a his’n’hers attraction for customers that will shift stock fast. Wall Street applauded, sending Under Armour shares up 4 per cent.
Supermodels come far cheaper than sports stars but the two deals this week show one thing: Mr Plank now has the money muscle to play in the big league, and the brains to win it too.Reuse content