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Carli Lloyd Inks Deal With Visa, Other Endorsements Loom

Advertising Age, July 06, 2015

By E.J. Schultz

The social media verdict is in: Carli Lloyd was the biggest sports star on the planet yesterday. But if the soccer star is going to cash in with brands she will have to move fast, according to sports marketing experts.

Ms. Lloyd, whose three goals led the U.S. women's team to a World Cup victory on Sunday, was the "hottest athlete on earth" yesterday, drawing more social media love than Major League Baseball, LeBron James and Tiger Woods, according to digital marketing company Amobee Brand Intelligence. She was mentioned in 120,951 tweets in the six hours after the game first began at 7 p.m. ET. Overall, the game drew nearly 2.9 million tweets, according to Amobee.

The newfound attention will surely translate into endorsement deals, and some brands have already struck. Showing clairvoyance — or just really good luck — Visa signed Ms. Lloyd to an endorsement deal last week, before she made a major name for herself with Sunday's hat trick. A Visa spokesman confirmed the deal, which was first reported yesterday by ESPN.

ESPN also reported that Ms. Lloyd's agency was in negotiations with an unnamed automaker as well as a watch company.

Ms. Lloyd's endorsement pricetag is likely in the low to mid-six figures range per deal, said Bob Williams, CEO of Burns Entertainment and Sport, which represents brands that hire celebrities for endorsements. Her stardom "expands the pool of recognizable players from the team," he said. And "as we move into the Olympics that is going to be important."

Indeed, with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil just 13 months away, Ms. Lloyd has a good chance of sustaining her name recognition. But when the games are over, the sport enters what Mr. Williams called a "dead zone." As a result, "the time to sign deals is really now," he said.

She's "highly marketable right now," said Jim Andrews, senior VP-content strategy at sponsorship consultancy IEG. But "it's a pretty short window of opportunity because the unfortunate reality for her, as well as other athletes in Olympic sports … is that they are not going to really maintain their place in the spotlight."