Roger Federer turned 36 years old in August. He’s a dinosaur in the world of tennis. It’s a young man’s game where Boris Becker and Pete Sampras both hung up their rackets at 31. Bjorn Borg was done at 26. But after one of the most remarkable years of his career, Federer is not done yet. “I currently intend to continue to play for a longer period, hopefully for a few more years,” Federer recently told Swiss publication SRF. “It’s been a massive year – perhaps my favorite.”
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Sounds like Federer is not going away anytime soon and companies want to be in the Roger Federer business with Fed at the top of his game in 2017. Tomorrow, premium Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Sprungli will announce an extension of its partnership with Federer which originated in 2009. The multi-year extension is expected to net Federer more than $20 million as a brand ambassador, according to industry sources.
Lindt is the latest Federer sponsor to extend its relationship with the tennis great beyond 10 years together. His endorsement relationships also stretch a decade or more in the cases of Nike, Rolex, Credit Suisse, Jura and Wilson. Federer’s endorsement earnings are the highest in the world at more than $50 million a year. The 19-time Grand Slam winner ranked fourth in FORBES’ annual look at the world’s highest-paid athletes with $64 million, including prize money and appearance fees.
Roger Federer was sidelined for the last six months of 2016 recovering from a knee injury. It was his first year without a tournament win since 2000. But Federer came roaring back this year to win seven events, including two Grand Slam titles. He won 91% of his matches. It was his best year on the court since 2007 and he re-took the crown for highest career prize money on the ATP Tour with his $111.9 million tally, a nose ahead of Novak Djokovic ($109.8 million).
Federer added a rare new sponsor in 2017 with a multi-year deal with Barilla Group, the largest pasta company in the world with estimated sales of $3.7 billion. The Barilla deal could net Federer as much as $40 million per sources.
Federer is wildly popular with his partners because of his 15-year run at the top of his sport with his good lucks and charisma as added bonuses. His sustained excellence gives brands added exposure knowing Federer will almost always be playing deep into every tournament.
The global nature of tennis and the demographics of tennis fans also raise Federer’s appeal with marketers. Nike can successfully use him in every corner of the globe, which is not the case for the top NFL and MLB players. Tennis fans have high disposable incomes to buy cars, watches, sports equipment and more. There is a reason luxury brands like Rolex, Mercedes and Moet & Chandon partner with Federer.
Lindt is a premium brand within the chocolate category. The company’s roots trace back 170 years and revenues hit $4 billion last year. Besides Lindt, the company markets its products under several other brands like Ghirardelli, Russell Stover and Whitman’s.