Last Sunday, the chants of “USA! USA!” shook Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium. The world had just witnessed a dominant display of athleticism and technical wizardry courtesy of the U.S. women’s soccer team. And it made us swell with pride. From online social media communities to pubs to living rooms and more, Americans everywhere celebrated the squad’s first World Cup win since 1999. Not only did they defeat a worthy Japanese opponent, they sealed the victory within the first 16 minutes of the match, when midfielder, Carli Lloyd scored a hat trick, to make it 4-0. The U.S. went on to win 5-2, and Ms. Lloyd effectively cemented her status as the sports industry’s next darling. She’s all but guaranteed to join the ranks of female soccer stars Sydney Laroux, Abby Wambach, and Alex Morgan – all of whom have already inked lucrative marketing deals with the likes of Coca-Cola, GNC, AT&T, Bank of America, and others.
A relative unknown outside of the women’s soccer circuit, Lloyd’s star is now shining bright thanks to her Pelé-like performance that had the American public and international spectators in thrall. Within the short time it took her to slot through a thundering half-field punt, her Twitter followers surged by 50k+, and her official website crashed temporarily. Even superstars Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi gave a tip of their hat on Twitter.
With Lloyd’s marketability now through the roof, marketing analysts are predicting a surge in sponsorship deals for the winsome 32-year-old who they say has all the attributes a company could hope for: integrity, tenacity, intelligence, and likeability (not to mention a clean police record, unlike teammate and U.S. women’s soccer goalie, Hope Solo, who was involved in a domestic assault dispute earlier in the year, which sullied her image).
Up to now, Lloyd’s corporate partnerships have been limited to just a few minor players, with the exception of Visa, which signed her the week before the World Cup finals match (talk about timing!). But, with her profile now higher than ever, experts say Lloyd’s representatives would do well to secure national endorsements before the media frenzy dies down. As for her long-term marketing potential – could she be another Mia Hamm or Serena Williams? It’s too early to tell, but if she plays her cards right and maintains momentum by logging more superstar performances like the one last Sunday, Lloyd will become more than just another high-profile athlete, she’ll become a brand.