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Brief Published: 2 Sep 2015

Gatorade Goes Bold With Serena Williams

While Serena Williams dominated summer tennis, coverage of her unprecedented achievements was tempered by media focus on the fact that she earns far less from endorsements and sponsorship than other top players. But US sports drink brand Gatorade has teamed up with the world’s number one to prove just how powerful a brand ambassador she can be.

The Unmatched ad campaign is a brilliant celebration of personal strength, similar to what we saw with the Adidas/Messi campaign we covered last week. As Fast Company comments: “With this inspiring spot, Gatorade is taking full advantage [of other sponsors’ lack of interest in Williams] and should have plenty of other brands drooling with envy.”

In June, US business bible Forbes took a look at the reasons why Williams will earn a reported $13m from sponsorship deals in 2015, while Maria Sharapova – who, while a good player, is not in Williams’ league – will make $10m more (Roger Federer, by comparison, earns $58m). “Does ethnicity and ‘corporate bias’ play a partial role in explaining the endorsement gap?” Forbes asked. “In all likelihood, yes.”

This endorsement gap makes no sense at a time when consumers crave diversity, realness and authenticity from brand communications – something we’ll explore in detail in our upcoming Get Real Macro Trend. Additionally, women are driving an upsurge in sportswear sales. As US lifestyle magazine The Atlantic points out: “Women control $29tn in buying power globally and make 64% of household buying decisions. Skechers, in part by marketing to women, has become the number two sneaker brand in the US, and Nike thinks that by targeting women it can add $2bn in annual sales by 2017.”

For more on diversity in marketing, see our Representing Diversity report. For more on sports marketing, see The Sports Marketing Playbook report.