$(WSJ) 300 Million for an Aging Tennis Star? Roger Federer Is Worth It, Uniqlo Says

brinkeguthrie

Professional
Weeks after it signed Roger Federer to a $300 million endorsement deal, Uniqlo is explaining why a company not known for sports attire is making such a big commitment to a tennis player in the twilight of his career.

The Japanese apparel giant said the tennis player will provide input on product designs, appear in ads and dress in the brand’s clothes both during matches and at charity and other public events off the court. He will don their latest collaboration, a line of polo shirts and shorts, at the U.S. Open later this month.

“The collaboration is much bigger than sports,” said John Jay, Uniqlo’s global creative director. “We develop high-performance clothes for everyone off the court, and we’d like to think the technology is good enough for an athlete.”

The deal will cost Uniqlo roughly $30 million a year for the next decade, raising questions around why the Japanese brand picked Mr. Federer as an ambassador. He just turned 37 and is widely considered to be near retirement, though he recently won his 20th Grand Slam title this year at the Australian Open.

Uniqlo is mostly known for basics, not sports attire. It previously outfitted tennis player Novak Djokovic, who is now with Lacoste.

Mr. Federer ended weeks of speculation about his deal with Nike Inc. this summer when he stepped onto the court at Wimbledon wearing a white shirt that bore a little red square reading “Uniqlo” instead of Nike’s swoosh. The tennis star has been representing Nike for about 20 years, collaborating on shoe designs and wearing the brand’s gear at matches. A plaza at Nike’s Oregon headquarters is named after him.

Signing the athlete as an off-the-court representative could present some complications for Uniqlo because he is a relatively private person outside of tennis.

Mr. Jay said that was part of the attraction. “There’s a certain level of being discreet and private that we cherish,” he said. “Of course, we’re running a business, but we very much respect that part of his life.”

Besides, Mr. Jay said, the company doesn’t expect Mr. Federer to disappear. “One day he will retire from tennis, but he’s not retiring from life,” he said.

Mr. Federer said his love of fashion and travel, and his affinity for Asia, position him to be a global ambassador for the brand.

“What really resonated with me when we were speaking to UNIQLO was that they respected me not just as an athlete but also as a person with interests and passions beyond the sport,” Mr. Federer said in an email. “I have to eventually think about life after tennis and Uniqlo was a great match for that.”

The rights to the iconic “RF” branding that he wore on his uniform still belong to Nike, but are expected to revert to Mr. Federer after the company sells through remaining inventory, according to a person familiar with the deal. Nike didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Uniqlo, which has a large presence in Asia, has been trying to raise its profile in the U.S. The company once planned to add hundreds of U.S. stores and considered buying U.S. apparel retailer J. Crew Group Inc. in 2014, but talks eventually broke down.

In an interview with the Journal last year, Tadashi Yanai, chairman and CEO of Fast Retailing Co. FRCOY 2.16% , the parent company of Uniqlo, said there is still room for the chain in a crowded U.S. apparel market. He said the company will focus on growing Uniqlo’s presence rather than making acquisitions.

Uniqlo has been boosting its visibility in the U.S. with temporary shops, large stores in major cities and vending machines in airports.
 

bezs

G.O.A.T.
They could have at least gotten their facts right in their advertising, 6 ATP world tour titles, world number one for 310 straight weeks(like what?!). This is sad.

 

AlexanderTheGreat08

Hall of Fame
Absolutely ridiculous. He is not worth 30 million a year. At best he’s a loss leader that will be out of the spotlight less than halfway through his contract.
Uniqlo is insane , Good for Federer though, After a few years outside the tennis court Federer will become irrelevant, It won’t be like David Beckham who has been retired for 5 years and is still relevant
 

Rattler

Hall of Fame
Just pre-ordered his kit from Uniqlo.

Shirt and shorts for less than one of the Nike RF shirts...on sale. Lol
 

Djokovicfan

Semi-Pro
That pricetag blew my mind too.
Its crazy how big the drop off in earnings is between the top 4 ranked players and the guys at around 30-40 ranking. Like federer earns a 30th ranked players yearly earnings in one day. I hope the guys outside the top ten would make a more lavish salary than they do. Its kind of unfair to the top 50 guys. Because to be ranked 30th or 40th in the world, even if only for a short while, means you are an unbelievably good tennis player. I think people forget that the 1000th ranked tennis player in the world could beat 999,999 out of 1 million tennis players out there.
 
always amazed that the savvy business minds of the talk tennis world know more about marketing, advertising and spending money than guys in charge of some of the biggest companies in the world. I guess these business don't create fake accounts to log on and see what they should do before opening up their checkbooks to Roger, Jerker, Murray, and the rest. someone in charge of these companies must think that these deals are good ideas and that some of them will be or were actually successful or they wouldn't get done.
 

Bobby Jr

G.O.A.T.
Uniqlo is insane , Good for Federer though, After a few years outside the tennis court Federer will become irrelevant, It won’t be like David Beckham who has been retired for 5 years and is still relevant
Herein lies the problem with making such comparisons.

Firstly, people as customers are not all worth the same to a company. Moreso, front-men are also not all the same on a per capita value to a company. Some are polarising because they came from highly tribal sports like football (soccer), or they're as famous for the wrong reasons (being a showpony) as they are the right ones (being great at something), or perhaps they're famously a moron. Beckham ticks all these boxes despite how well he's known globally vs Federer - and smart brands all know this. Beckham is basically the UK version of the Kardashians - he and his wife just got there earlier. The Kardashians perfected the "fame for the sake of fame and whoring your name brand to anyone who throws money in your direction."

Any global brand aspiring to appeal to a high-end market - dollar for dollar - would sign Federer any day of the week ahead of Beckham (or Le bron James for that matter) because of who Federer is and the quite amazing number of boxes he ticks in terms of uniqueness, longevity and accomplishment in his sport, as well as his out of sport activities and actions (charity work, family guy, lack of scandals, mostly ignoring the stupid crap associated with such fame etc). He's even from one of the least polarising countries too which is another of the intangible bonus details Federer brings to the mix which, for a global company, is an important consideration.

I said it many times in the pre-reveal discussions that Federer was being signed for a long-outlook which, given the stage he's at in his career, must be a reflection of how well regarded he is and how powerful his name is to those who know him even just by name. These companies are not mugs when it comes to doing research. Uniqlo is basically unknown to much of the Western world and they're already bigger than half the size of Nike. They're about the same size as Adidas and on a much quicker growth path than either of the big sporting brands. They know full-well that an association like this will drill into the Western markets where Federer is so well-known even if it is initially among the sub-set who associate him with the higher end of brands. That obviously is the intention here.

The way in which people here make out like this is some epic corporate clanger or how you think Federer wont be worth anything a few years into retirement show a woeful lack of knowledge on branding, marketing or an understanding of just how unique an endorsement opportunity he is all things considered.
 

AlexanderTheGreat08

Hall of Fame
Herein lies the problem with making such comparisons.

Firstly, people as customers are not all worth the same to a company. Moreso, front-men are also not all the same on a per capita value to a company. Some are polarising because they came from highly tribal sports like football (soccer), or they're as famous for the wrong reasons (being a showpony) as they are the right ones (being great at something), or perhaps they're famously a moron. Beckham ticks all these boxes despite how well he's known globally vs Federer - and smart brands all know this. Beckham is basically the UK version of the Kardashians - he and his wife just got there earlier. The Kardashians perfected the "fame for the sake of fame and whoring your name brand to anyone who throws money in your direction."

Any global brand aspiring to appeal to a high-end market - dollar for dollar - would sign Federer any day of the week ahead of Beckham (or Le bron James for that matter) because of who Federer is and the quite amazing number of boxes he ticks in terms of uniqueness, longevity and accomplishment in his sport, as well as his out of sport activities and actions (charity work, family guy, lack of scandals, mostly ignoring the stupid crap associated with such fame etc). He's even from one of the least polarising countries too which is another of the intangible bonus details Federer brings to the mix which, for a global company, is an important consideration.

I said it many times in the pre-reveal discussions that Federer was being signed for a long-outlook which, given the stage he's at in his career, must be a reflection of how well regarded he is and how powerful his name is to those who know him even just by name. These companies are not mugs when it comes to doing research. Uniqlo is basically unknown to much of the Western world and they're already bigger than half the size of Nike. They're about the same size as Adidas and on a much quicker growth path than either of the big sporting brands. They know full-well that an association like this will drill into the Western markets where Federer is so well-known even if it is initially among the sub-set who associate him with the higher end of brands. That obviously is the intention here.

The way in which people here make out like this is some epic corporate clanger or how you think Federer wont be worth anything a few years into retirement show a woeful lack of knowledge on branding, marketing or an understanding of just how unique an endorsement opportunity he is all things considered.
Thanks
 

West Coast Ace

G.O.A.T.
No way , Everyone knows who is David Beckham , He has like 50m followers on IG
There are a lot of delusional Fed fans on these boards who think he’s at the same level as Beckham, CR7, Michael Jordan - not even close.

To some extent it will depend on Fed; sometimes he says he’s going to devote himself to the kids - if he follows thru with that then this will be a terrible deal and the Uniqlo CEO’s kids should have dad put in a mental institution before he completely craters the company. But if he stays involved - tournament director, starts an academy, does some TV - then he’ll still be in the tennis spotlight and it could be a decent deal.
 

Bartelby

Bionic Poster
Federer is above the stars previously mentioned in terms of appealing to the 'rich and powerful' demographic that Uniqlo would like its customers to aspire to: high-end fashion at low-end prices.
 

JW10S

Hall of Fame
There are a lot of delusional Fed fans on these boards who think he’s at the same level as Beckham, CR7, Michael Jordan - not even close.
While some posters may be 'delusional' I think you are also off base with your 'not even close' statement. Afterall Federer has won the very prestigious Laureus World Sports Award 5 times, including 4 years in a row. Some of the other athletes mentioned have not won 1. Federer often draws stars like Beckham, Woods, as well as many celebrities when he plays. People who do not play or even follow tennis know who Roger Federer is, I know that for a fact. And that's what Uniqlo paid for, he's not just a 'tennis player'. I'm surprised so many seem so upset about the switch to Uniqlo but I guarantee that any of supposedly more famous athletes would have done the same thing and I also guarantee that many of those same athletes are more than a little bit jealous.
 

West Coast Ace

G.O.A.T.
....high-end fashion at low-end prices.
Makes 0 sense - Uniqlo isn’t high end.

While some posters may be 'delusional' I think you are also off base with your 'not even close' statement. Afterall Federer has won the very prestigious Laureus World Sports Award 5 times, including 4 years in a row. Some of the other athletes mentioned have not won 1. Federer often draws stars like Beckham, Woods, as well as many celebrities when he plays. People who do not play or even follow tennis know who Roger Federer is, I know that for a fact. And that's what Uniqlo paid for, he's not just a 'tennis player'. I'm surprised so many seem so upset about the switch to Uniqlo but I guarantee that any of supposedly more famous athletes would have done the same thing and I also guarantee that many of those same athletes are more than a little bit jealous.
Sorry, just looking at it from a business perspective. You little veiled Fed fanboy insults are cute.

And why would anyone be jealous of Fed now but wasn’t when he was ‘only’ pulling in ~$50MM? You silly ‘guarantee‘ - bizarre and nonsensical. Again, statements of a fanboy who is upset his hero isn’t worshipped by all no matter what.

Sorry, your ‘I know non tennis people who know him’ means nothing. Football (soccer) is much more popular worldwide. I bet the ratings of CR7’s World Cup matches were 10x Fed’s Wimbledon matches.
 

JW10S

Hall of Fame
Makes 0 sense - Uniqlo isn’t high end.

Sorry, just looking at it from a business perspective. You little veiled Fed fanboy insults are cute.

And why would anyone be jealous of Fed now but wasn’t when he was ‘only’ pulling in ~$50MM? You silly ‘guarantee‘ - bizarre and nonsensical. Again, statements of a fanboy who is upset his hero isn’t worshipped by all no matter what.

Sorry, your ‘I know non tennis people who know him’ means nothing. Football (soccer) is much more popular worldwide. I bet the ratings of CR7’s World Cup matches were 10x Fed’s Wimbledon matches.
I'm no fan boy, I just live in the real world. And I'm sorry you are so thin skinned that you viewed my post as 'insulting' to you. You are so missing the point with your soccer being more popular rant--of course it is, but that means nothing in this context. It doesn't matter because we're talking about the recognizability of a single athlete, not the sport as a whole. But even given that let me educate you a little: sports journalists ranked the top 25 rated sports in the world using criteria such as global base, TV ratings, sponsorships, and 10 other factors [Google '25 World's most popular sports (ranked by 13 factors)']. #1 Soccer (everyone knows that), #2 Basketball, #3 Cricket (surprise!), #4 TENNIS, #5 Athletics (Track & Field), #6 Rugby (again, surprise), #7 Formula 1, #8 Boxing, #9 Hockey, #10 Volleyball. Golf, Baseball and American Football did not make the top ten. Are you really saying with a straight face that one of the all time greats in the #4 global sport is someone that hardly anyone outside the sport would know? Come on man--that would be the very definition of 'bizarre and nonsensical'. And yes, other athletes are jealous because they realize along with the $300M he'll get from Uniqlo he still gets millions from Lindt, Rolex, Mercedes Benz, Wilson, whatever he'll get from a new shoe deal and whatever else he has going on top of that. You're the one who seems to have taken this whole thing so personally--which I stated before is something that surprises me. I'm done with you little man, I'll leave you to stew about it--I'm good.
 
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Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
While some posters may be 'delusional' I think you are also off base with your 'not even close' statement. Afterall Federer has won the very prestigious Laureus World Sports Award 5 times, including 4 years in a row. Some of the other athletes mentioned have not won 1. Federer often draws stars like Beckham, Woods, as well as many celebrities when he plays. People who do not play or even follow tennis know who Roger Federer is, I know that for a fact. And that's what Uniqlo paid for, he's not just a 'tennis player'. I'm surprised so many seem so upset about the switch to Uniqlo but I guarantee that any of supposedly more famous athletes would have done the same thing and I also guarantee that many of those same athletes are more than a little bit jealous.
Didn't Beckham switch to LA Galaxy for money at the tail end of his career?

:cool:
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
Federer is above the stars previously mentioned in terms of appealing to the 'rich and powerful' demographic that Uniqlo would like its customers to aspire to: high-end fashion at low-end prices.
Lulz.

Federer is above those other athletes in the eyes of the rich and powerful, because he plays a sport which they can associate with.

The other athletes on that list do not come from such sports.

:cool:
 

Mike Sams

Legend
Uniqlo is insane , Good for Federer though, After a few years outside the tennis court Federer will become irrelevant, It won’t be like David Beckham who has been retired for 5 years and is still relevant
If nobody breaks Federer's Slam count, he'll stay relevant I think. Even though the organizers are doing everything in their power to help Nadal inch towards Federer's Slam count in order to sell more tickets and generate higher television ratings, I would think Federer's name will still be mentioned regularly as the Slam leader even after he retires. Somebody has to break his Slam count in order to make him irrelevant.
 

Mike Sams

Legend
That pricetag blew my mind too.
Its crazy how big the drop off in earnings is between the top 4 ranked players and the guys at around 30-40 ranking. Like federer earns a 30th ranked players yearly earnings in one day. I hope the guys outside the top ten would make a more lavish salary than they do. Its kind of unfair to the top 50 guys. Because to be ranked 30th or 40th in the world, even if only for a short while, means you are an unbelievably good tennis player. I think people forget that the 1000th ranked tennis player in the world could beat 999,999 out of 1 million tennis players out there.
Nobody deserves anything in sports. Everything has to be earned. If those players outside the top 3-4 guys can go and win Slams and Masters and build their name then they will also get tens of millions of dollars in prize money and endorsement money.
 

Mike Sams

Legend
There are a lot of delusional Fed fans on these boards who think he’s at the same level as Beckham, CR7, Michael Jordan - not even close.

To some extent it will depend on Fed; sometimes he says he’s going to devote himself to the kids - if he follows thru with that then this will be a terrible deal and the Uniqlo CEO’s kids should have dad put in a mental institution before he completely craters the company. But if he stays involved - tournament director, starts an academy, does some TV - then he’ll still be in the tennis spotlight and it could be a decent deal.
Do you really think tennis is as big as the NBA or football? Federer could never be as big as the stars of those sports. NBA and football have a much much bigger viewership than tennis.
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
Most of the people who know Beckham never even saw him play a single football match. LOL
Most of the people who know Beckham don't know him at all.

He built his late career image on the back of his Hollywood connections, and so, he blends with the indescriptive mass of Hollywood "stars".

He doesn’t have an instant recignizability outside of England and the fact that he doesn't come from an individual sport doesn't help either.

:cool:
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
I'm gonna take a stab at it. Is it the corner kick? Sorry I barely watched him play. I just know him mostly because of an indian movie called Bend it like Beckham.
The fact that the poster I asked and you don't know anything about the football player Beckham tells the story about popularity based on sports career.

FYI, his trade mark play was a crossing, being able to put the ball on the head, foot or anywhere he wanted to for his teammates.

That and the free kicks.

:cool:
 

Bobby Jr

G.O.A.T.
Regardless of anyone's arguments for or against this deal the comments on the dollar value being justified or not are way off. $30m sounds like a big number but for a truly huge brand like Uniqlo which is growing quickly and hasn't even yet dented Western Europe or North America to any significant extend it doesn't seem outrageous given Federer is the one sportperson on the planet who is both among that top echelon and was also available. CR7 etc are tied up for years to come with club deals and conflicting personal endorsements. Fed was in a particularly unique space - he became a free agent shortly after he rewrote the record books and proved everyone wrong for the umpteenth time with a miraculous comeback and return to form.

To compare Fed's suggested $30m to guys like F1 drivers or other top motorsport or gold participants it seems entirely within normal money for such a massive name - and a once in 30 years name in one of the historically "elite" marquee sports of the world (alongside soccer, Formula One etc). And I can guarantee a ****ton more people globally recognise (visually or by name) Federer over Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso - both of who earn ballpark the same as Fed's deal as their salary - albeit for shorter terms. Consider too what the endorsement deals that actors/celebrities have for brands which often run in the many millions of dollars - some getting 6 figure sums just to post about products/brands on Instagram a few times.

The reason footballers and basketballers have done so well with massive paydays is mostly because they're club sports with massive commercial models built around them and therefore similarly deep pockets, not because there's some global popularity calculation capable or working out how much product they can personally hock - even if they can move heaps of units. Yet Few of those high paid players have ever come close to Federer's level of recognition and deep respect across all facets of life on a global basis - especially in the wealthiest markets. You could almost wonder if the reason we haven't seen endorsement deals of this ilk before from those other sports is because brands like Uniqlo, Mercedes, Rolex etc have been waiting for a tennis player or similar. Team sport players may just not cut it for those brands in their own estimation. Again,... take a look at guys getting close to Fed's deal (again, albeit on shorter terms) like Drew Brees or Derek Carr. They are known visually by virtually no-one outside of the US. To the Fed deal value naysayers: explain how they're worth what they are in a 325 million person market but Federer isn't in a larger potential market where he is vastly better known?

$30m is just not that much of a ridiculous number and, given who Federer is in the scheme of global sports icons, his agent knew a $10m Nike deal aimed way too low. Leaving money on the table isn't what leveraging being one of, if not the greatest tennis player ever is about in a business sense.
 
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JW10S

Hall of Fame
He went to Italy after that to play for AC Milan and then he went France to play for PSG
Yes, I remember that too. Those were both short term deals (1 season each, although very lucrative) mostly for promotional purposes as Beckham was past his prime by then. He actually played little for both teams. Federer is still competitive and due to his global fame I can see why Uniqlo chose to invest in him and again do not understand why so many people on this board have their knickers in a bunch over it. The notions that because soccer is more popular than tennis and therefore every soccer player in world is more famous than Federer or that he will instantly be forgotten the second he retires are just so absurd. And why are men so obsessed and upset by what another man wears? It's weird, not that there's anything wrong with that...but it's still weird. The deal was made months ago and there are something like a dozen threads, or more, about it on this board. Time to get over it.
 
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AlexanderTheGreat08

Hall of Fame
Yes, I remember that too. Those were both short term deals (1 season each, although very lucrative) mostly for promotional purposes as Beckham was past his prime by then. He actually played little for both teams. Federer is still competitive and due to his global fame I can see why Uniqlo chose to invest in him and again do not understand why so many people on this board have their knickers in a bunch over it. The notions that because soccer is more popular than tennis and therefore every soccer player in world is more famous than Federer or that he will instantly be forgotten the second he retires are just so absurd. And why are men so obsessed and upset by what another man wears? It's weird, not that there's anything wrong with that...but it's still weird. The deal was made months ago and there are something like a dozen threads, or more, about it on this board. Time to get over it.
I can see that it was a good decision for Uniqlo cause Federer is a great ambassador
 

deaner2211

Semi-Pro
Federer is above the stars previously mentioned in terms of appealing to the 'rich and powerful' demographic that Uniqlo would like its customers to aspire to: high-end fashion at low-end prices.
No one is above MJ. Almost 20 years after he retired his shoes are still number one (maybe number 2 behind Steph's shoe). Roger's name will never sell like MJ's and Nike knows it.
 
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