- Tennis star Maria Sharapova is Porsche's new brand ambassador, putting a female face on the German brand with a major male following.
- "She combines top performance in her sports with elegance and power," said Matthias Mueller, Porsche CEO.
- Sharapova previously was linked with Land Rover in an endorsement deal.
STUTTGART, Germany — Tennis star Maria Sharapova is Porsche's new brand ambassador, putting a female face on the German brand with a major male following.
"She combines top performance in her sports with elegance and power," said Matthias Mueller, Porsche CEO. "These are precisely the qualities that are embroiled in our sports cars."
The three-year deal between the 26-year-old Sharapova and Porsche involves a global communications campaign. But a key question is just how much Sharapova will influence Porsche design in the future. When she collaborated with Cole Haan in 2009, she insisted that the accessory maker come up with a ballerina flat — a personal favorite. It has since become a top-selling item.
The Russian-born Sharapova is something of an international brand herself, selling everything from candy to cars.
She is the highest-paid female athlete in the world, according to Forbes, bringing in $27.9 million as of June 2012. Her endorsement deals include Evian, Head and Nike.
The Porsche-Sharapova deal represents yet another automaker seeking to put a human face on its brand.
Earlier this year, three-time Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel was tapped for a similar role at Infiniti. He is the Japanese brand's new "director of performance." On April 11, seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher signed a long-term partnership with Mercedes-Benz. Schumacher's task is to help the German automaker hone its safety and comfort systems.
The Sharapova deal is more unusual, since it is somewhat rare for high-end automakers to use women as brand ambassadors. The move could signal an effort on the part of Porsche to boost its appeal to women throughout the world — or perhaps a growing awareness of what has been called the "Sheconomy."
Economists say the purse strings — especially in the U.S. — are mainly held by women, who are often called the "chief purchasing officers" of their households. More importantly, women are also earners. In 2011, women accounted for 51 percent of all persons employed in management, professional and related occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, the percentage of wives who earn more than husbands has grown from 23.7 percent in 1987 to 37.6 percent in 2011, according to BLS documents.
Sharapova previously was linked with Land Rover in an endorsement deal. As last year's winner of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix here, she not only took home prize money, but also a white Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet.
Edmunds says: Expect Maria Sharapova to wield considerable influence at Porsche, as the female superstar becomes the brand's first global endorser.