Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

A match made in heaven

Published Jul 21, 2018 02:23pm
This year, Wimbledon was eclipsed. By a T-shirt...

Though there was the little soccer tournament happening in Russia. Nadal came fresh off his victory at Roland Garros. Djokovic, plagued by injuries for the past year, was back in the fray having regained his form and a score of promising players, such as Alexander Zverev and Nick Krygios were expected to step in and looked dangerous.

Yet, none of this mattered. What mattered was Roger Federer. And what mattered even more was the logo on his clothes which (for the first time), is not Nike. It was the logo of Japanese apparel brand, Uniqlo.

While almost everyone lost their minds when Federer showed up (knowing about the deal but not really believing it), it stopped being a mere surprise and ventured into the absurd, as the details of the deal were made public. Federer nets (ha-ha) $300 million over 10 years from Uniqlo in return for flaunting their logo instead of the Nike ‘swoosh’ – whether he plays or not.


Federer, considered by most to be the greatest tennis player of all time, has gone from strength to strength. He has won an incredible 20 grand slams, remained at the top of the game longer than anyone else and displays the most inventive, elegant and aggressive tennis skills in the game's history.


And he is free to sport (ha-ha again) any brand of shoes (including Nike). What is more, his ‘RF’ logo, ubiquitous at every tennis tournament on hats and vests, remains with Nike, although he hopes Nike will not cause too much trouble in returning it. Only Federer can do a third of a billion dollars in endorsements and then make himself sound like the aggrieved party!

So why is Uniqlo making a deal with an athlete who at 36 is likely to brandish their clothes for four years at the most? Although they haven’t come right out and said so, it is understood that it is a drive to establish a major visual presence around the world by the time the Tokyo Olympics roll around in 2020. And it makes sense.

Federer, considered by most to be the greatest tennis player of all time, has gone from strength to strength. He has won an incredible 20 grand slams, remained at the top of the game longer than anyone else and displays the most inventive, elegant and aggressive tennis skills in the game's history. That is only half the story.


Although Uniqlo is relatively pedestrian in terms of market placement compared to the other brands endorsed by Federer (Rolex, Mercedes, Credit Suisse and Moet and Chandon), the fact is that he remains a humble, down-to-earth individual in real life.


He also has an unparalleled global fan base. As a devoted father of four, a faithful husband, and exhibiting uniformly exemplary conduct on and off the court, his brand value is inimitable and is now safely un-tethered from his sporting fortunes. He draws crowds and the media everywhere he goes and according to Forbes, he is the biggest endorser in the sports world.

There is another factor. After his time off due to injuries in 2016, Federer is a changed man. He recognises and embraces his senior citizen status and honours his health enough to pick his battles, despite incessant criticism from tournament organisers who miss his crowd-drawing, ticket-selling power, which eclipses that of any other rival, including Nadal. He now allocates more time to be his family and to practice. Although Uniqlo is relatively pedestrian in terms of market placement compared to the other brands endorsed by Federer (Rolex, Mercedes, Credit Suisse and Moet and Chandon), the fact is that he remains a humble, down-to-earth individual in real life.

Only if you are Roger Federer can a $300 million endorsement signify a return to your humble roots. What better way to signify his changed approach to tennis and life than by embracing a new brand? Uniqlo, with their sights firmly on world domination are unlikely to find a better endorser.

Win-win.

Talha bin Hamid is an accountant by day and an opinionated observer of pop culture, an avid reader, a gamer and an all-around nerd by night.