Could Mesut Ozil and Adidas change perceptions towards sponsorship deals?

Could Mesut Ozil and Adidas change perceptions towards sponsorship deals?
At a time when football has been decimated by the financial fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic, there are fears about the long-term future of some clubs. Despite that, the earning power of some footballers is astonishing. The astronomical sums of money that they have managed to accrue from multi sponsorship deals shows no signs of abating.

According to a recent Forbes study, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi racked up over £60million from their various endorsement packages over the past year and they are a marketing man's dream.

What was more intriguing to read was that Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil severed ties with Adidas this week, which brought to an end a seven-year partnership. Reports had widely circulated that Adidas dropped the German, because they were concerned about his public image and therefore decided against renewing his contract. Ozil has been at the centre of several controversies over the past few years. This has included having Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his best man at his wedding last year as well as criticising China's treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang.

Explaining why Adidas terminated his deal, Ozil's agent, Dr. Erku Sogut, said: "Nobody has the reach he has in the Premier League so you can imagine what attention he has for many boot brands.

"Adidas knew he was pushing his own thing. He has been doing it on Twitter lately so it is now time to build his own brand while he is still actively playing.

"That is unique in football. Some players reach the end of their career and then try to build a brand but we think that is too late."

Perhaps with Ozil past the peak of his powers, he is less of an attractive proposition for sponsors. In a world where personal branding has become everything, the 31-year-old has been working hard to cultivate his persona off the field and he has spent time developing an online range of clothes through his M10 shop and he has also set up an M10 esports team.

Footballers are global assets, and in Ozil's case, he has used business savvy to reach out to his fanbase.

The shelf life of a top footballer is usually around 15 years and the onus is on them to maximise their earnings for as long as they can. Ozil has been comfortably the highest earner with the Gunners on a £350,000-a-week deal, but he has been well supplemented by his off the field endorsements.

For some, money remains their main driving factor to prolonging their careers and glamorous sponsorship deals can enable them to live a life of luxury. But is this an archaic view of how sponsorships should work?

Perhaps there is a misperception placed on the importance of sponsorship deals and this needs to be re-evaluated. Ozil has made a bold move and he has thought carefully about managing his interests off the field.

In finding a novel way to make himself more marketable, he has been rather canny. Sponsors are always happy to cater to the whims of each player, but Ozil has carved out an exciting opportunity for himself.

Footballers are no longer merely pawns of the game. They can make be the movers and shakers and come up with innovative ideas. Perhaps Ozil's stand could inspire others to follow suit.


 Written by Charles Perrin

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