More than ever before, marketers are placing emphasis on leveraging influential celebrities in brand marketing. The brand value added by celebrities is immediate and palpable.
Sports brands always use athletes for its endorsement. For example, football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo announced a lifetime deal with Nike in December 2016 worth 1 billion USD and will endorse Nike products for the rest of his life. Over the period of time, Nike has also used different football players as celebrity endorsers.
Celebrity endorsements are one of the best ways of marketing as people idolize celebrities, so whenever famous people are seen in advertisements promoting a new product, audiences are prompted to buy that product.
One of the classic examples of celebrity endorsements was 1970 World Cup final When the whole world saw Pele (who was, apparently the most famous athlete at the time) tying his shoe laces just before the match started and the camera pointed out Pele wearing puma shoes.
All of this started with a clear-cut rivalry between two giant brands Adidas and Puma, athlete endorsements were considered as a much bigger risk. Both the brands tried to get the best athlete by spending too much on endorsement which used to lead them to financial ruination.
Things got so worse between the two that they actually had to de peace-treaties, and a result of this was, Pele pact (an informal agreement, where both companies came to an agreement that they both will not sign a deal with Pele) as they thought that they will both end up spending too much money on world’s greatest football player of that time and it won’t be of much worth to either.
Lead by Pele, Brazil’s football time during the 1970 world cup was one of the strongest team all time and their final match with Italy was one of the most sought after match of that time. What happened before the match was very interesting, just before the opening whistle, Pele asked the referee for a moment to tie his sneakers. The camera zoomed in on the best player of the time. He knelt at midfield, getting ready for one of the most important games of his career, he was wearing PUMA sneakers, but what happened to the Pele Pact? did PUMA signed a deal with PELE and broke their deal?
Obviously, Pele did not know about the “Pele Pact,” but things became interesting when Puma allegedly sent a representative to the Brazil team named Hans Henningsen. Henningsen was a reporter who had become quite friendly with the Brazilian team. Pele and Henningsen spent some time together and Pele was annoyed that Henningsen, who spent time trying to sign all the other Brazilian team members, never tried to sign him. Finally, Henningsen decided that enough was enough and he made a bold decision. He worked out a deal with Pele without approval from Puma and offered Pele $25,000 for the 1970 World Cup and $100,000 for the next four years (plus a cut of the sales of Pele brand sneakers). Henningsen brought the offer to Armin Dassler, who was the head of Puma at time and Dassler decided that the deal was just too good to pass up. So he agreed to the offer and he and Henningsen delivered the money to Pele. Part of their deal involved Pele intentionally asking for time before the opening of the final match so that the cameras would all pan down to him tying his Puma brand sneakers and as you might imagine, Adidas was furious and the sneaker wars began again intensively.
Even now the rivalry is still on between the biggest brand agents and with time they are trying to come up with best and more creative way of advertising.