Google Down the Line!: Sharapova Inc. raking in bigger bucks, animated "Super Shrieka" in the works

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sharapova Inc. raking in bigger bucks, animated "Super Shrieka" in the works

Thanks to DtL reader Maja for sending me over this SportsBusiness Journal article about the state of the juggernaut that is "Sharapova Inc." (read: it's raining even more CASH.)

Check out a few of the very interesting tidbits from Daniel Kaplan's piece...

On her her most recent marketing campaigns:

Three of her sponsors — Tag Heuer, Cole Haan and Sony Ericsson — unveiled in recent weeks marketing campaigns around Sharapova, notwithstanding the decline in the luxury goods market. Sharapova also just signed a new, $2.5 million-a-year deal with a shampoo maker.

On her current deal with Nike and its effect on Serena Williams:

The company spends so much money around Sharapova, sources said, it’s one of the reasons why Serena Williams, currently the world’s top-ranked player and whom Sharapova upset to claim her landmark 2004 Wimbledon win, has not found a suitable renewal offer for her own deal with the sneaker power. Nike declined to make an official available for comment.

On how agent Max Eisenbud manages all of her commitments and her upcoming schedule:

Eisenbud copiously schedules each year down to the hour, parsing the 14 to 16 days Sharapova commits to her sponsors. For appearances at sponsor parties, he bestows each company a single hour annually with her before one of the four Grand Slams. Photo shoots are limited to Saturdays between 1 and 8 p.m. in the offseason, four days next week following the Sony Ericsson Open, two days after Wimbledon and one day after the U.S. Open.

Beginning April 6 in Los Angeles, Sharapova will cram in photo shoots for Nike, its subsidiary Cole Haan, Canon, the shampoo company (whose identity could not be determined) and the cover of ESPN The Magazine. She returns to her home in Florida after April 10 to resume training, and leaves April 30 to compete in Rome.

On her popularity and reasons behind it:

Davie Brown, the Omnicom unit that ranks celebrities, places Sharapova’s popularity in the United States in line with “A-list Hollywood ‘It’ girls, including Keira Knightley and Rihanna,” according to a February study. That report does not track overseas, though, where Sharapova is arguably a far-greater celebrity.

To many, the reason for Sharapova’s popularity is obvious. Even her agent doesn’t discount that a good measure of her fame boils down to the fact that she is a pretty blonde from Russia’s Siberia.

But winning Grand Slam events and playing with a ferocious on-court style are also pluses, and U.S. residency allows her to straddle cultures. Her life story of emigrating impoverished to Florida at age 7 with her father, Yuri, gaining entry to the Bollettieri Tennis Academy at age 9, and winning Wimbledon eight years later is the fairy tale marketers clamor for.

On her upcoming projects including a possible animated series:

Still only 21, Sharapova now is branching into other endeavors. She will serve as the executive producer of a weekly drama series loosely based on her life that MTV has agreed to run. Eisenbud is also planning an animation series portraying her as a tennis player by day and a spy/superhero by night who uses the global tennis tour as a cover. Sharapova plans to do voice-overs for both series.

Okay there's TONS of nitty-gritty stuff here to dissect and still more in the article so take a moment to read it Shrieka (and non-Shrieka) fans. Here are the most intriguing points to me:

1. Is the 3-time Grand Slammer's deal really hurting ReRe's chances for a renewal contract with Nike? There had been murmurs Nike might be cutting the World No.1 loose last summer since she was getting towards the end of her career. But now that she's won two straight majors and moved back into the WTA Penthouse, I'd be surprised if they couldn't work something out. According to the article, however, ReRe is currently without a shoe or apparel contract which could mean she hasn't signed up for a renewal just yet. Stay tuned.

2. Sharapova Inc. is a well-oiled, well-managed machine that's continuing to rake in more cash even though she hasn't played singles since last August. I'm sure Eisenbud is making a good living doing this job (and seemingly well, I might add.)

3. The fact her popularity measured in February ranks with Keira Knightly + Rihanna blows my mind. Again - she's not even playing!!!

4. It all seems like a PR ploy to let marketers know the Russian's still a valuable prospect even though she's been injured.

4. An animated, super Shrieka??! HELL FRIGGIN' NO.

(images via


  1. Thanks for posting this!

    Before I start I should probably say, that I truely heart Maria!


    How on earth can say compare her popularity to Rihanna!? An "A-list Hollywood ‘It’ Girl"?
    Ok, I don't live in America, but here in Germany noone, who is not interested in tennis, would recognise Masha.
    Everytime they hear "pretty, blond tennis player" the go "Oh yeah. Kournikova. She's hot"

    >>4. It all seems like a PR ploy to let marketers know the Russian's still a valuable prospect even though she's been injured.<<

    Probably true. Still, the way the article is written they make it seem like Masha is "it", the best thing ever to happen to a marketer's wet dream and everbody else doesn't count for sh!t!!!

    Good for her she's making all that ca$h, but 2.5 Million for a shampoo deal? That's just mind-boggling to me! But hopefully they'll give her a decent hair cut! Enough with awful bangs and half-hearted-wannabe Farrah Fawcett hair!

    In other tennis endorsement news, Jelena Dokic reportedly signed a three-year deal with Lacoste, worth up to 4.4 Million Dollar!
    Now that's some news I like to hear!

  2. Wow, this is a lot.

    1. If Masha's PR is as good as they think they are and want to believe, they won't let this leave Sports Business Journal. This country just went crazy about AIG bonuses, right now is not the time to announce someone just signed a 2 mil contract for a shampoo maker.

    2. It's Nike. Somehow they'll work something out with Serena, unless Serena wants to follow Venus' lead. Cause let's say ReRe wins RG. And then goes for the GS (which with the sorry state of the WTA that could definitely happen) how stupid would Nike look if they let the GS winner go and win wearing a different apparel brand?

    And with that said, Nike is putting A LOT of eggs in this one basket. They better watch themselves a little.

    3. I don't care what they say, she ain't on the A-list level. Sorry for being blunt, but she's not. Is she one of the most popular and known names in the game? Yes. Has she crossed over in appeal? Sure. But A-list she is not. Let's stop saying this Davie.

    4. Animated series? Her "weekly drama?" Why do I have a feeling both of these will be laughable and not in a good way?

    5. (And this is the most important). Masha needs to focus less on this off the court stuff and more time on finding her game and getting healthy. As of this moment she is not the hot name in tennis. And she's not the best player nor ranked #1. All these other things, the sponsorships and stuff, don't mean a damn thing if that shoulder injury ends her career (whether it's the shoulder itself or if it's just the beginning of more injuries to come. You know how it is with athletes-they get one injury and become injury prone the rest of their playing days) or she can't find her game again. Yes, she's young so she has a lot of time. But time passes fast and there aren't a lot of players playing or winning in their 30's.

    I didn't mean to go negative. I really didn't. I might not be a Masha fan, but I don't hate her either. But for real, girl needs to spend a little more time on getting back on the court.

    With all that said, I'm not hatin on her. Get that money while it's there. But, well, it might not be that for long if the reason she became this big (the tennis) isn't good. Or even there.

  3. i wonder who's going to play "maria" for the MTV show? hrm....heidi montag? hah.

    rere doesn't have a contract with nike right now? weird.

  4. Maja I live in America and I can tell you that there's no way in hell she is an A-list celebrity especially not of the same caliber as Rihanna and Keira Knightly.

    At first I took this seriously but after reading the A-list lie, I agree with Rich. This is all a huge PR ploy. Same goes with the Serena thing. Above all Nike is a sports apparel company. "Champion athlete" is the image they sell and that fits Serena exactly so why would there be issues? Also, Nike is effin HUGE they would have no financial problem regarding Serena's contract.

    Lastly, this is regarding the fairy tale "From Siberia to Wimbledon" story. They're getting ahead of themselves. Serena and Venus's winning 17 combined majors having come from the gang-ridden streets of Compton is bigger and I think that Ana's French Open after growing up in a WAR trumps them all. She had to practice in a drained swimming pool while her country was bombed, come on!

  5. I agree this is a PR ploy to put Maria's name out there. What, the sponsors are no longer calling. Everyone of these athletes that have clothing contracts etc also have performance clauses included in those contracts. Clearly, the fact that Maria is not performing will impact on how her sponsors view her marketability, hence the whole she is hot, she is an A-list celebrity etc. I am not sure that Sharapova will be back to where she was before - case in point - Capriati. Sharapova is not a naturally gifted athlete - she was taught to be an athlete - a means to an end. One of the reasons that she has struggled so much and it has taken so long for her to recover from this shoulder injury is as a result of the fact that she was taught the wrong technique on her forehand as well as her serve. I have heard commentators mention that fact for years and some even said that she would have trouble later on in her career. Well, it did not take long and look where she is now. I am not sure that we will ever see Sharapova back on a tennis court again. Sorry to all the Sharapova fans but that is how I really see it.

  6. Well, Hollywood wants her now because of the hype she's getting by winning tournies. The minute she stops playing, Hollywood won't be calling. Also, it's one thing getting a TV deal, and it's another thing getting the shows picked up (that I know!)

    I think new deals are drying up. Her management is not getting as many calls as before. Compared to her previous deals, I think $2 million contract isn't something that they would have entertained before. Din't she make something like $25 million last year?

    The bottom like is, take her out of the tennis courts, she's just another blond model or actress.


  7. Does that mean that not only do we have to deal with the real Shrieka but also with an actress playing her and with an animated one? Nooooo!

  8. Anon - I really doubt if the show is going to last. Fictional sports TV shows don't usually fare well.


  9. Ash: I hope you're right.
    And I agree with all the posters above. This is clearly a PR stunt. I think that's the reason why it took her so long to admit that she had shoulder injury. If she admits that she's not able to play, the sponsors won't be so interested.

  10. Sorry, Rich, this is OT, but did you see Marat's (non)hairy situation in his last match? That didn't look good at all, even on Marat :P

  11. I don't think she has the fire to make it back to #1 as long as the Williams sisters are still around. She has a mental block when it comes to Serena. Remember Charleston?

  12. I want the animated spy thingy to star Marat Safin, not Sharapova! And I want it to be live action. . and in the nude!

  13. Ooooo! Great idea, freakyfrites! More Marat less shrieka would make my world a whole lot happier!

  14. Freakyfrites, you're a genius. Bring on naked spy Marat!

  15. There are too much morons who buy something because Saharapova (or other sales agents) "use" it, that's why Sharapova Inc. works.

  16. yup, you got it right. it's all a huge marketing ploy. but i do think that she's still nike's top gal, not even serena or azarenka can take it away from her (that is, if nike doesn't pirate ana ivanovic from adidas).

  17. This has to be a marketing ploy because I haven't seen any proof that Maria is so popular. She doesn't even pull in big tennis crowds. They don't pack the stadium the way they did for Kournikova.

  18. You know, my comment on the article being a PR ploy really is born of the fact that it's SportsBusiness Journal, a trade mag for the sports industry.

    To me, this article is def geared towards people in the advertising, marketing, PR industries who focus on sports and who make decisions on sponsorships, partnerships, events, etc. based on the way the financials are played up, her sponsorships, popularity, and potential.

    Team Shrieka def wants these players to know their girl is a solid prospect and can still sell the crap out of anything she touches.

    Those of us whose focus is more on-court and in the tennis world see things very differently I think. She can be very polarizing for fans so it's sometimes hard to reconcile how she's in such demand.

    But that's why these companies really strive to take her out of the tennis world (not shot in tennis clothes, with a racquet in hand, etc.) because they can sell her solely on her image and her ability to be a chameleon.

    I find it all pretty fascinating actually.

  19. *palm face*

    Oh retire her already!


  20. At times reading that article was an exercise in *gross*. Sorry, not a fan.


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