ANALYSIS

Murray victory opens door to lucrative endorsements

Brands are lining up to throw money at British tennis player after his historic Wimbledon win

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 July, 2013, 5:08am

Andy Murray shed his Fred Perry clothes in 2009. It took him four more years to escape the 77-year shadow cast by the last male British Wimbledon champion.

Murray's defeat of Novak Djokovic in the July 7 tennis final will be worth about £50 million (HK$588 million), as global consumer companies such as Gillette and Coca-Cola will consider bidding for the champion's signature, said Nigel Currie, a sports marketing executive at BrandRapport in London.

Murray switched to the three stripes of German sportswear maker Adidas from the laurel wreaths that adorn the Perry shirts. Asked what Perry, who died in 1995 aged 85, would say about his run at Wimbledon, Murray quipped: "Why are you not wearing my kit?"

Perry won his third straight title at the All England Club in 1936 when Edward VIII, Queen Elizabeth's uncle, was king.

In addition to Adidas, Murray endorses racket supplier Head and watch manufacturer Rado.

Perry started his brand in the 1940s by giving away sweatbands emblazoned with his name. The business evolved into sports shirts meant for the court that won a following on the street. Perry and a partner sold out in 1961 "exhausted by the company's demands", according to the company's website.

Fred Perry is owned today by Osaka, Japan-based Hit Union. The brand has shops in Britain, the United States and Asia and reported earnings of £20 million on revenue of £119.8 million in the 12 months to March 31, 2012, according to the most recent corporate filings. Slightly less than half of the sales were in Britain.

Murray's victory gives him the chance to earn as much as Nike players Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Currie said.

"The British side is important, but he's moved into a global range now," Currie said. "It showed when he moved from Fred Perry to Adidas. He moved from being a big UK athlete to being a world athlete, and that will continue for the next few years."

Murray is Adidas' main tennis endorser, although it gets more from soccer, where it sells a shoe used by Barcelona's Lionel Messi, the four-time world player of the year. Adidas, based in Herzogenaurach, Germany, reported net income of €524 million (HK$5.34 billion) on sales of €14.9 billion in fiscal 2012.

"Adidas will be desperate to hold on to him," Currie said. "Nike has been pretty dominant in recent years. Murray is now becoming a big established name, and that will be a big bonus for Adidas."

Coca-Cola was not in talks with Murray about sponsorship, said a spokeswoman for the firm.

The tennis player's annual earnings potential may triple from endorsements and prize money, according to branding consultant Jonathan Gabay.

Murray is targeting clothing makers such as Ted Baker and Burberry, the type of fashionable consumer product makers he wants to be associated with, according to a person with knowledge of the player's thinking.

Already the reigning Olympic and US Open champion, Murray has a chance to end the year as the No1 player on the men's ATP World Tour, and his Wimbledon victory will have resonance as the British economy struggles to grow, Gabay said.

"Having a home-grown champion means a lot in the UK," Gabay said. "He will be inundated with offers, but he has to choose the appropriate offer. It's all about very astute brand management."

Murray is managed by Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment. The champion said he lets his agents and managers focus on his endorsements and investments while he concentrates on his training and performance.

Chances are whoever sponsors Murray won't be a champagne maker. He ran for cover as his team shook up bottles and sprayed the locker room during their celebration.

"I hate champagne," Murray said. "It burns my throat."

Lai See is on holiday