Tennis champion Sharapova in Britvic Gatorade ad blitz

PepsiCo has signed up defending US Open champion Maria Sharapova to endorse sports drink Gatorade. The deal is understood to be worth several million pounds.

The strategy sees Britvic, which makes and distributes PepsiCo’s soft drinks in the UK, further boost its association with tennis. Its Robinson squash brand is already a long-term headline sponsor of Wimbledon.

A PepsiCo spokeswoman says Sharapova will star in a new Gatorade campaign, which will launch early this year, and will also be involved in a global campaign to educate consumers about hydration.

The Russian star, who won at Wimbledon in 2004, adds the deal to a strong list of endorsements around the world. She signed a lifetime deal with racket and apparel company Prince last year for $25m (£12.8m) and also has deals with Nike, Tag Heuer, Canon, Colgate and Land Rover. Her estimated annual income from endorsements, appearance fees, prize money and other sources is $30m (£15.4m).

Gatorade, which is particularly strong in the US, was launched in the UK through vending machines in sports and leisure outlets only at the end of 2005.

The launch was backed by a campaign starring Chelsea and England footballer Frank Lampard. It is hoped the Sharapova tie-up will boost brand awareness in the UK.

Last year, former Britvic director of brands marketing Richard Collins said the company was taking a “ten-year view” with regards to the UK growth of the sports drink.

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