Top footballers like world class athletes are useful exposures when one considers the millions of people worldwide who are interested in following the fortunes of the bouncing ball and those who make it happen. Entrepreneurs know this and they do not miss an opportunity to capitalise from the footballers’ popularity to make their products more known through familiar faces. Top footballers are icons both on and off the field. In certain countries they are regarded as modern day gladiators. Those who revel in glory are continually involved in promotional slots for six and seven figure fees, in euros or in dollars, advertising the latest car models, kitchens, drinks, blades, watches, jewellery, creams, after shave and thousands of other products. Their image sells. Researchers found out that they are more productive than pop singers and fabulous models. This fact is very evident so in the clothing industry.
Designers and player-agents know that this is the sector which targets the attention of the age-group with the highest spending power. Footballers’ fashions are copied by millions.
Giorgio Armani, a renowned leader in the fashion world, who recently turned seventy, pioneered the marriage of fashion and football. He understood the real values of such a twinning combination years ago. Armani employs 5,000 people worldwide and his empire has a turnover of 1.3 billion euros a year! Ten years ago he dressed the footballers of his hometown Piacenza in Italy, he did the same with Chelsea, Newcastle United and the Italian national team. The formal and off field wardrobe of the current England squad also carries his name. The three-year contract which expires in 2006 includes the provision of such accessories as sunglasses, watches, belts, shoes, underwear, luggage and trolley suitcases. Every time he signed a contract with a national association or a footballer, the sales increased impressively.
From James to Kaka
Armani dressed great footballers from all over. Christian Vieri, Ronaldo, David Beckham, Fabio Cannavaro, Figo are found amongst his list of household names who promoted Armani’s products. In 1995 Armani brought on David James then of Liverpool, as a catwalk and advertising face. Since then world stars were turned into models!
Armani’s latest capture is the young Brazilian wizard Kaka who plays for AC Milan. The 22-year old youngster with a clean face and fantastic feet is earning millions of euros with his promotion of Armani Jeans which he always wears during his leisure time. When travelling with his club he then switches to Dolce & Gabbana creations! The same can be said of the Beckhams, David is one of the prized assets of Armani while his wife Victoria Adams is a great fan of D & G styles and colours.
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana who had previously kitted their favourites from Inter will never go for the classic style and are doing their utmost to change the image of a white or light blue shirt, with a regimental tie under a dark grey or navy blue suit as the official club’s outfit. Youngsters feel better when not wearing a tie, but club directors hardly think so.
Professional footballers and their agents are no fools. They certainly have a good eye for business and hardly miss a trick when they sense one. A few household names have already started to produce their own creations! Hide Nakata who was instrumental in establishing a big market of his team’s colours, in Japan when he played for Perugia, Roma and Parma recently introduced his own stylish tops! A couple of years ago, Vieri and Maldini launched their ‘Sweet Years,’ while Francesco Totti and Ilary have their own brand ‘Never without you.’
David Beckham and Victoria Adams have a big empire, with their many creations under the David Beckham Designer Products logo, which is a million-dollar spinner especially in the Far East. One recalls the great returns when the England captain flashed his ‘Beckham jacket’ which was designed by Armani, or the six-figure sales of the Real Madrid’s no.23 shirt during the last eighteen months.
The face of David Beckham is recognised as international football legend and Mr. Posh Spice. He has also been groomed as a fashion icon. A woman’s dream, a gay man’s sexual fantasy, a teenage idol. Fashion seems the way forward for David and Victoria. Victoria is assured of a £1m for designing her DVB bag for Samantha Thavasa!
When the Beckhams got married in July 1999, they became the most photographed, talked about, envied, copied, derided famous power couple in England. Since then they managed to widen their reputation world wide. To-day they are worth about £70m!
The role of merchandising in football clubs is manifested in the returns. The fashion designers know it and the pattern is not solely reserved to the few big stars or a mere couple of top designers. Football is popular worldwide, big stars have a following all over. This is clearly evident with the different faces and the different brand names.
Winning is very fashionable. Being hugely successful is always in style.