Ranking lists will forever stir discussion; heated debate based as much upon the absentees as those who made the cut. For that reason, it is worth considering a few of the many names that do not feature this year.
As ever, the key tenet of this list is the search for value for money. As such, the likes of Roger Federer, David Beckham, Peyton Manning and Serena Williams – global household names and hugely marketable individuals – are not included in the rankings as the cost of an endorsement with them is likely to be at its peak, with its value, indeed, on the wane.
Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.
- Value for money
- Home market
- Crossover appeal
Falling increasingly into that category is perennial LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who ranked 13th on last year’s list. While Bryant remains a force on the court, even more imposing is the price he commands for endorsements off it, a fact that sees him overhauled by a far more commercially attractive legion of rising stars in the NBA.
There are, however, discrepancies even within that group of young pretenders. Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, undoubtedly marketable as the 23-year-old face of one of the NBA’s most storied franchises, signed a blockbuster ‘lifetime’ contract with Adidas in February that could be worth as much as US$250 million. As a result, he, like Bryant, fails to make this year’s list on the grounds of failing to offer value for money.
Home market appeal, too, is a ruling factor, one which saw the omission of Formula One’s Fernando Alonso. Although no less of a driver, Alonso’s stock may well yet suffer, in the same way motorsport in general has done in Spain, under eurozone austerity, while marketers will likely be looking to the up-and-coming Sergio Perez, a potential teammate of Alonso if his widely tipped move to Ferrari materialises, to fly the Hispanic flag in the coming years.
Once again, sporting performance has some bearing on this list. The dwindling form of motorcycling legend Valentino Rossi, 39th last year, was a major factor in his exclusion this time around, while his ability to command top endorsement dollar means he fails to tick both the ‘potential’ and ‘value for money’ boxes. Similarly, the elimination of last year’s 36th most marketable athlete Travis Pastrana comes as a result of his somewhat underwhelming transition from action sports legend to middling Nascar pilot.
Elsewhere, having been regularly outshone by teammate Evgeni Malkin on the rink this season, Pittsburgh Penguins favourite Sidney Crosby, 27th last year, will likely be overshadowed by Malkin off it too with the Russian’s marketability set to soar over the next couple of years in the lead up to his home Olympics in Sochi in 2014. Additionally, the swirl of commercial hype that enveloped Crosby around the time of his home Games, in Vancouver in 2010, has long since died down.
Meanwhile, despite boasting a larger profile, and trophy cabinet, than Jack Wilshere, Wayne Rooney was more or less replaced in the rankings by his younger, less tarnished and more social media-friendly compatriot as the foremost name within the marketable ranks of England’s national soccer team. Another soccer star of recent times, Samuel Eto’o, is also absent this year. In the same way as the Cameroonian’s self-imposed exile to Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala put him on the distant periphery of public consciousness, last year’s 50th ranked athlete slipped unnoticed off the bottom of this year’s list, unlikely ever to return considering he is well and truly in the autumn of his career.
Other notable names who have not made the cut this year are Ryo Ishikawa, the Japanese golfer who hasn’t yet capitalised commercially on his status as the Asian face among a raft of exciting young players, and popular Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh, whose commercial and sporting development has been curtailed in recent months by injury and ill-health.