Olympics 2012: British Gold Medalist Jessica Ennis In Line for Sponsorship Payday
Jessica Ennis could be in line to become one of the most marketable women in world sports after the British athlete, promoted as the face of the London 2012 Olympics, delivered with a gold medal in the heptathalon on Saturday.
Ennis' athleticism, as well as her good looks and ever-smiling demeanor, have already made her a marketer's dream. Current sponsorship deals includes ones with Powerade, British Airways, skincare brand Olay and carmaker Jaguar.
But after winning a gold medal following an enormous build up before the games, Ennis' earnings could skyrocket.
“She is set up for life,” sports marketing expert Patrick Nally told Reuters. “Winning at home has that extra kudos and she will be able to trade off it for many years.”
In an interview with BrandRepublic, an excutive with sports and entertainment marketing group brandRapport estimated Ennis' earnings could jump from an estimated £1 million ($1.6 million) now to around “£3 million ($4.7 million) per annum over the next two to three years” in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
But brandRapport's Nigel Currie warned that the success of British athlethes at this home Olympics means Ennis will face major competition for lucrative marketing contracts. She is already thought to be leading the pack for Team Great Britain. Ennis' deal with sportswear manufacturer Adidas, which supplies the team's kit, is worth an estimated £320,000, more than any other British athlete.
"She is one of those athletes who works for us from stadium to catwalk to street," Nick Craggs, U.K. Marketing Manager for Adidas, told Reuters.
With no prize money on the line, athletes in non commercial sports such as athletics rely on sponsorship deals to turn Olympic gold into hard cash.
It can be an uphill climb, however, especially for female athletes, who struggle for the international marketing appeal of male superstars such as Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. The only female on Forbes list of 100 highest-paid athletes is Chinese tennis player Li Na, ranked 81st with an estimated $18.4 million in annual earnings. It's notable that Bolt is the only athletics star on the list. His $20.3 million earnings last year earned him the 63rd position in the Forbes' ranking.