With the media frenzy around the latest Galactico kicking into overdrive, Real’s sponsors will be savouring the prospect of featuring football’s latest star in their upcoming campaigns. Adidas is already building a strategy to tap into his heightened stock, while it is highly likely the club’s other sponsors such as Emirates, Coca-Cola and Audi are planning similar moves.
Bale has become a consistent match winner over the past three years with his marauding runs, lightning pace and ability to score spectacular goals. And yet despite his undoubted talent, the former Premier League star is more or less a blank commercial canvas. In the wake of the Luis Suarez racial incident and the Lance Armstrong scandal, sponsors are under greater pressure to choose the right brand ambassador. Bale’s “family man” image offers marketers a safe outlet that could see him surpass team mate Ronaldo in terms of marketability in the near future, suggests the latest celebrity brand data from Repucom.
Despite the fact current public awareness of Bale hovers at around 53 per cent, according to Repucom’s Celebrity DBI index, compared to 90 per cent the former Old Trafford star, his attributes for appeal, aspiration, breakthrough, endorsement, influence, trend-setting and outscore Ronaldo in the UK. Even in Spain, where the gulf in public awareness between the two is even more apparent, the Welshman outscores the Portuguese in ‘appeal’, ‘breakthrough’ & ‘trust’ – the three key marketability factors according to Repucom.
It is not just in Europe where Bale’s commercial appeal is growing. In the US, he was the face of broadcaster’s NBC marketing campaign to promote its coverage of the 2013/14 Premier League season despite Spurs not being one of the league’s current four big clubs.
Charlie Dundas, managing director of Repucom UK and Ireland says: “Ronaldo has for a number of years now been one of the biggest names in global sports so, even for Bale, reaching that level of public awareness takes time and continued success.”
It is a thought not lost on Real’s president Florentino Perez who is hoping the player’s performances over the next six seasons helps limit the commercial impact of losing out to FC Barcelona for the sought-after signature of Brazilian superstar Neymar. Panasonic reportedly signed a multi-million deal with the Catalan club until 2016 as a direct result of the signing and it is only a matter of time before Bale’s arrival sparks similar results.
The seven-time Champions League winners may be the richest club in the world according to Deloitte, but its lack of global stars to rival Ronaldo’s appeal has pulled its brand value behind both Bayern Munich’s and Manchester United’s in recent years, a Brand Finance report revealed.
Bale’s arrival could kick start Real’s Galactico strategy – its policy of signing global superstars to negotiate bigger TV deals and increase their match-day revenues – which has stuttered since Perez’s return to the club in 2009.
The player is about to experience a whole new world as he follows in the footsteps of global football icons including Ronaldo, David Beckham, Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane; he is no longer just a footballer.