Sporting heroes who have become advertising stars - and flops

For every Gary Lineker ... there's a David Seaman, says Richard Gillis
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Pepsi and Coke have taken football in different directions. Coke went the official route, buying up World Cup, Euro Championship and Football League sponsorships. Pepsi's approach is to stuff their ads full of "galacticos" such as Zidane, Totti, Ronaldinho and Beckham, carefully covering every major market and rotating the ads to fit. Despite recent dents to his public image, Beckham retains lucrative endorsement deals, in part due to a media profile which affects the sale of products globally.

Gooch & Warne, Ocean Advanced Hair Studio

Two old lags making hay while the sun shines. The enforced banter between Graham Gooch and Shane Warne calls to mind the early routines of Mike and Bernie Winters, only without the gags. The two balding cricketers are given a dialogue which takes us through baldness and, er, cricket, no clever subplots here. There is a great deal of evidence to support the notion that sportsmen should not be allowed to speak on camera. Exhibit A.

Tim Henman, Persil

Safe, dependable and very dull. Brand ambasssadors such as Henman profit from being viewed as a safe pair of hands. Campaigns take up to a year to plan and absorb much of the annual marketing budget. The assets of top footballers are substantial: they're fashionable and sexy. But reliable? "This goes some way to explain the enduring popularity of Michael Owen and Alan Shearer," says Clifford Bloxham of sports marketing agency Octagon. "And why the jury is still out on Rooney."

Thierry Henry, Renault

The stylish Renault ads were made by an Arsenal-supporting creative team that put his appeal down to his "contemporary Frenchness and a kind of detached self-confidence". Henry's commercial appeal owes much to clever management. He endorses relatively few brands and so there is little confusion on the part of the viewer as to what the ad is plugging. "Va va voom" is defined as exciting, vigorous or sexually attractive by the Oxford English Dictionary.

Vinnie Jones, Bacardi

The photo of Vinnie Jones squeezing Gazza's nethers gave new meaning to the term "playing the holding role". Lock, Stock... fame and fortune awaited. Advertisers have long seen the benefit of provoking a strong response in audiences. But Jones's real-life hard-man antics on board a planeload of holidaymakers led to Bacardi rethinking his ability to entice us to the "Latin Quarter". There is a difference between having a hard-man image and actually threatening to have the crew killed.

Gary Lineker, Walkers Crisps

The one they all aspire to. The ex-England captain and current Match of the Day presenter has fronted the Walkers brand since 1995. It is one of the most successful examples of personal endorsement. Lineker's ads for Walkers led to a 105 per cent increase in sales of their crisps between 1995 and 2002. The "No more Mr Nice Guy" campaign is used by parent company Frito Lay across the world using local personalities. In South Africa, former rugby captain François Pienaar plays the Lineker role.

Frank Lampard, Tesco

Lampard is being groomed as the natural successor to David Beckham as the ad man's favourite footballer. One of relatively few players to appeal to the broader brand community outside the boot and kit manufacturers, he has recently been signed up by Orange to appear in a new campaign and to write a behind-the-scenes blog. Given his profile, it seems odd that Tesco choose to keep him so anonymous, preferring pundit Alan Hansen's voiceover to get the message across.

Jose Mourinho, American Express

Part of a small but interesting trend toward using football managers. Sam Allardyce and Alex Ferguson were both very good in spots for Barclays, taking the mick out of their public image resulting in ads which were warm and funny. Likewise, Bobby Robson and Gordon Strachan have appeared with some success. Mourinho should be an ad man's dream: photogenic, witty with a huge public profile. Somehow American Express mucked this up with some horribly pompous guff about financial planning.

Gary Neville, Vodafone

The one in which David Beckham phones home from Spain to Gary and brother Phil getting drenched in rainy Manchester. The Man Utd player dismissed Nike's recent anti-racism stance as a publicity stunt. Given that Nike indirectly pays his salary via its kit deal with United, this stand irritated the kit-maker. Neville's own marketing value was put in to context by one top soccer agent who said, "It's a strange little boy who rushes to the shops to ask for 'those boots Gary Neville wears'."

Wayne Rooney, EA Sports

The example of Kate Moss, sacked by retailer H&M following press stories about drug-taking, shows how fragile the brand-celebrity relationship can be. Although less serious in nature, Rooney's erratic behaviour and the accompanying media analysis over the past few weeks may cause tension in the boardroom of Electronic Arts. The computer games company has signed up Rooney as frontman for its Fifa 2006 game. The Rooney ads are an integral part of EA's £80m global ad spend.

David Seaman, Currys

England footballer David Seaman's recent appearance in a TV ad for electrical store Currys was voted the worst example of celebrity endorsement by Campaign. magazine. Giggling like Steven Seagal's idiot brother, the former England goalie's attempt to flog us a home cinema system was arguably the worst advertisement ever seen on television, full stop. His on-screen partner, Changing Rooms star Linda Barker, has painted cupboards less wooden.

Jonny Wilkinson, Travelex

A handful of the Ashes-winning England cricket team will see Wilkinson as their commercial role model. The rugby star has collected a series of endorsement deals despite being plagued by injury since winning the World Cup in 2003. Rugby and cricket share characteristics which act to put a ceiling on the earnings of their stars, most notably the limited reach of the game outside a small number of countries. Look for Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff to be vying for this type of ad work soon.

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