At 68, Pele Awaits His Payday
Pele, perhaps the greatest player ever in the world's most popular sport, is still trying to scratch out a living at the age of 68.
He's just signed a merchandising deal with Nomis, a little-known Swiss cleat manufacturer, in a move that could become a runaway success -- or yet another example in a lengthy list of business deals whose history is as spotty as his goals were sublime.
On the soccer field, Pele's legacy is virtually unrivaled in the modern history of international sports. A member of three World Cup champions, he scored nearly 1,300 goals in a career that spanned three decades and two continents. But during the 32 years since his retirement, Pele, once one of the most recognizable athletes in the world, has failed to leverage his fame into the vast fortune that other sports superstars like Michael Jordan enjoy today.
In some ways Pele himself is accountable for not capitalizing on his superstar status. Despite several overtures, he has never served as coach or a top team executive, or as a major television commentator in the spirit of ex-NFL great John Madden or golf's Johnny Miller.
But Pele's circumstances can also be blamed on the year of his birth, since his career ended just before the emergence of the modern sports-marketing behemoths that, over time, have spawned a race between basketball's LeBron James and golf's Tiger Woods to become the first billionaire athlete. David Beckham, currently the world's top-earning soccer player, collected about $45 million last year in salary and endorsements. Pele's big payday, by contrast, came in 1975, when the New York Cosmos signed him for $4.5 million -- the top salary for a professional-team athlete in the U.S. at the time but about a third as much as the Kansas City Royals pay mediocre outfielder Jose Guillen.
Pele's attempts to score in the business world have at times fallen short. He owned a construction company that went bust and a sports-marketing firm that collapsed amid a financial scandal. His product endorsements included a successful relationship with MasterCard but also a line of retro sportswear from Puma in 2005 that failed to take off. And when he became a pitchman for erectile-dysfunction drug Viagra, Pele stated he did not personally need the drug but would use it if he did.
The soccer great says he's not bitter about his timing or his business choices, even if it has left him still hustling at an age when current superstars may have little else to do but count their money.
'Their careers are short, so they need to make a lot of money,' he said, lamenting that the promise of money motivates the world's top players today rather than the love of the game that drove him. 'A kid who plays for money moves all around and is not concerned with his sport or the team.'
Now comes the Nomis deal -- the latest effort by Pele to transform himself into a branded empire rather than simply to associate him with established companies and products. There are a half-dozen Pele-brand coffee shops in Brazil, a potential bio-pic, and plans for a video game and an animation feature in India. All of this raises the question of whether a near-septuagenarian still has enough marketing juice to compete with superstars one-third his age in a youth-dominated industry. In short: Will a 9-year-old in Spain want to buy Pele's cleats or Lionel Messi's?
Pele has no doubt he can still hold his own. 'My career gives my brand positive values and attributes and a message that goes from generation to generation,' Pele said through a translator last week. 'It's not like athletes now that are at the top of the game and then start playing badly. In my career, I have done it all. My message is clear from generation to generation. Pele is a guarantee.'
If the cleats and the other potential licensing ventures become a hit, Pele could finally have the chance to carve out the sort of fortune he never has attained. Born Edison Arantes do Nascimento, Pele first became a worldwide star in 1958 as a 17-year-old sensation for Brazil in the World Cup, where he danced through defenders to score six goals, including a semifinal hat trick. In retirement, though, Pele has worked largely as worldwide ambassador for soccer.
Three years ago, Paulo Ferreira, chief executive of Rio de Janeiro-based Prime Licensing, the company originally charged with creating the Pele brand, predicted Pele would quickly become a $100-million a year business. That hasn't happened. Mr. Ferreira contends Pele's new partnership with IMG Worldwide will finally help him reach his full marketing potential. 'Pele is very strong for consumer goods, entertainment and also real-estate venues,' Mr. Ferreira said.
Simon Skirrow, Nomis' founder, said that with Pele, the company saw a chance to build its product around someone they believe represents the performance-first qualities they embrace. (Sources say Pele will receive a royalty on sales rather than a flat licensing fee.) Mr. Skirrow added that he never thought Pele would be available to work closely with them to design and market a cleat. But, as he noted, 'He doesn't have a huge amount of projects on his plate right now.'
IMG is trying to change that. Bruno Maglione, an executive vice president for IMG, said Pele's potential for marketing remains high despite his age.
But image isn't everything. 'He is a living legend, but that only gets you in the door with consumers,' said Ryan Schinman of New York-based Platinum Rye Entertainment, which advises companies on celebrity marketing. 'You have to back it up with a superior product.'
2009年 07月 29日 08:17
在 足球場上﹐貝利創造的奇跡在現代國際體育史上幾乎是無人匹敵的。作為三次獲得世界杯的冠軍隊的隊員﹐他的體育生涯歷經三十年﹐足跡跨越兩大洲﹐他共踢進了 近1300個球。但在他退役後的32年間﹐這位世界上曾經最有名的運動員﹐卻未能象邁克爾•喬丹（Michael Jordan）那樣的體育明星一樣利用個人名聲﹐享受著日進鬥金的快樂。
在某些方面﹐貝利自己對未能好好利用其巨星的地位負有責任。儘管 造過一些聲勢﹐但他從未當上過教練或是任何頂級球隊的主管﹐或是有像美國國家美式足球聯盟（NFL）前明星球員約翰•麥登（John Madden）或高爾夫球員強尼•米勒（Johnny Miller）那樣的勁頭﹐當上大電視台的體育評論員。
但 是貝利的處境也可以歸咎於他的生不逢時﹐因為他的足球生涯恰恰結束在現代體育營銷巨頭出現之前。這些年來﹐這些巨頭打造出了第一代體育界的億萬富翁﹐包括 籃球明星勒布朗•詹姆斯（LeBron James）和高爾夫明星老虎•伍茲（TIGER WOODS）。當今世界收入最高的足球運動員大衛•貝克漢姆去年將4500萬美元收入囊中﹐其中包括薪水和廣告代言收入。而比較之下﹐貝利的輝煌日子卻僅 僅是1975年以450萬美元的身價﹐加盟紐約宇宙隊（New York Cosmos）﹐那是當年美國職業運動員最高的薪水了﹐但這僅相當於現在的美國堪薩斯市皇家棒球隊（Kansas City Royals）付給他們的平庸外場手荷塞•吉恩（Jose Guillen）薪水的三分之一。
貝利在生意上的嘗試有好幾次都失敗了。他曾 開過一家建築公司﹐但破產了﹔他也辦過一家體育營銷公司﹐但因一次財務醜聞而倒閉﹔在廣告方面﹐他既有和萬事達信用卡（MasterCard）的成功合作 ﹐也有在2005年和彪馬公司（Puma）合作推出復古經典運動服的失敗經歷﹔當他為勃起功能障礙藥偉哥做廣告時﹐他聲稱他自己不需要服用此藥﹐但如果真 的需要的話﹐他也會用。
現 在有了Nomis 這樁生意﹐這是貝利想把他的名字變為一個品牌帝國的最新的嘗試﹐而不再侷限於和有名的公司和品牌合作。在巴西﹐已經有六家貝利品牌的咖啡屋、一部可能會開 拍的傳記片﹐在印度還準備開發視頻遊戲和動畫片。所有這些都提出了一個問題﹐即這位年近70的老人還能有足夠的市場號召力來和年齡是他三分之一的晚輩在這 個以年輕人佔主導的行業里競爭嗎？簡而言之：一個9歲的西班牙孩子會去買貝利的球鞋還是利昂內爾•梅西（Lionel Messi）的球鞋？
貝 利深信自己能佔有一方天地。“我的足球生涯給了我的品牌正面的價值和特點﹐以及能代代相傳的信息﹐”上週貝利通過翻譯說。“我不象那些現在如日中天但接下 去就走下坡路的運動員們。我在我的生涯中什麼都經歷過。我傳達給一代代人的信息是明確無誤的﹐那就是：貝利就是一顆定心丸。”
如果足球鞋 和其它可能的授權品牌產品大獲成功﹐貝利最後可能有機會賺取他從未擁有過的大筆財富。他原名叫Edison Arantes do Nascimento﹐貝利首次成為世界明星是在1958年的世界杯上﹐17歲的他成了巴西隊的大熱門。他嫻熟地突破對方的防守﹐一共踢進了6個球﹐包括 在一場半決賽中獨自連進三球。然而退休後﹐他主要的工作是以足球大使的身份行走於世界各地。
位於里約熱內盧的Prime Licensing公司最初負責創立貝利品牌。三年前﹐該公司的首席執行官費雷拉（Paulo Ferreira）預測﹐貝利的品牌將迅速成為每年能賺一億美元的生意﹐但他的預言落空了。費雷拉堅持認為貝利和國際管理集團（IMG）的新合作會有助貝 利充份挖掘他的市場潛力。“貝利在消費品、娛樂業和不動產方面的廣告效應是很強大的﹐”費雷拉說。
Nomis公司的創始人斯葛羅 （Simon Skirrow）說﹐和貝利合作﹐是因為公司看到了他帶來的建立產品品牌的機會﹐他是一個他們認同的表現至上的代表。（消息人士說貝利將會得到銷售額的提 成﹐而不僅僅是一次性的授權費用）。斯葛羅補充說道﹐他沒有想到貝利能和他們密切合作來設計並推廣一款球鞋。但是﹐他又說﹐“目前貝利手頭沒有很多其他項 目可做”。
但形像不是萬能的。“他是一個活著的傳奇人物﹐但是這僅僅說明他可以帶來消費者﹐” 紐約一家專門為企業做名人廣告咨詢的公司、Platinum Rye娛樂公司的辛曼（Ryan Schinman）說﹐“你還必須有優秀的產品作支撐”。