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Top 50 most marketable athletes: controversy or sponsorship science?

May 23, 2014

In the industry of sports marketing there are a few publications that appear on the mahogany desk of a multinational CEO and Sports Pro Magazine is one of them. In their latest issue asked they question “Who is the most marketable athlete?”

To see the full list click here.

Cue punters saying ‘who’s that?’ And ‘why isn’t so and so included?’ SportsPro has already hedged against those type of questions and state that the purpose of the exercise is to judge an athlete’s potential over the next three years. Which explains many of the baffling omissions and inclusions.

But let’s ignore for a moment the athletes themselves and instead put our SQN magnifying glass of sponsorship analysis over the selection criteria of the list.

The six criteria used include: value for money, age, home market, charisma, willingness to be marketed and crossover appeal. What we really want to know is how important these attributes are from a brand’s perspective in looking at an athlete’s marketability?

Does a fizzy drinks manufacturer in Europe wanting to sell in the US put exactly the same value on these criteria as an American computer firm selling to the home market?

Clearly no two brands are alike and the emphasis they would put on each athlete’s attributes in terms of marketability will vary wildly. There are few companies who have their own ‘top 50 athletes to sponsor’ identical to SportsPro’s list.

Nineteen year old American Julian Green, who plays in Germany for Bayern Munich and has yet to make a first team appearance, makes the top 50 list. This is based on potential, but would many brands want to take that risk?

The charismatic Moto GP legend Valentino Rossi is nowhere to be seen in this year’s compilation. Even at a higher fee, wouldn’t he be a safer bet?

SportsPro’s list is a good read and does seem to be stirring the pot of discussion. Though it lacks practicality when looking through the lens of an amalgamation of brands rather than any single one.

In reality, a list of marketable athletes for regions, products and public opinion, as well as many other attributes that each and every brand requires before choosing the best sponsorship investment, would be far more constructive – but it wouldn’t make for quite such a fun read.


Follow Sine Qua Non’s resident ski, golf, football and other sports expert Matt Puddy on Twitter here and let us know what you think about the top 50 list by tweeting @TechandSport. 


We are excited to announce that Sine Qua Non (SQN) has joined rEvolution, bringing SQN’s technology and communications prowess to rEvolution, the global, integrated sports marketing agency. Together, we will continue to grow as one team to deliver best-in-class integrated marketing services for our clients.

We put people first, challenge personal effectiveness, and act as change agents on a unified team. We share these values now and moving forward. In this next chapter we will scale our skillsets and expertise together to make an increasingly significant impact in the industry.

Please visit http://www.revolutionworld.com to learn more about rEvolution’s capabilities and culture.

This is an exciting time for everyone on our collective team, and we look forward to continuing our work with you.

John Rowady
CEO & Founder, rEvolution

Claire Ritchie
CEO & Founder, SQN

Chris Ritchie
Director & COO, SQN