The U.S. team's rout of Japan in yesterday's Women's World Cup final has led to talk that Carli Lloyd, winner of the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player, should be put on the $10 bill. But, while the chances that honor goes to her are probably not very high, the odds are considerably better that Lloyd will be seeing plenty of U.S. notes coming her way, regardless—in the form of brand endorsement deals.
"Lloyd is like the LeBron James of women's soccer," said Anthony Fernandez, president of New York sports marketing firm Athlete Brand Management. "Brands are going to look at her as someone with potential."
"Lloyd is already part of the Nike family, and we have a Summer Olympics coming up next year," added Chris Raih, founder and CEO of Los Angeles creative agency Zambezi. "The runway is lining up nicely; she's in a power alley right now."
No kidding. Despite much of the prechampionship buzz going to the likes of Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux, it was Lloyd who was the woman of the hour yesterday, scoring three times in the first 16 minutes, the last goal a missile from midfield. Speaking to Fox Sports, U.S. Coach Jill Ellis called Lloyd "my beast … she's unbelievable. She's a rock star."
According to Zambezi's data, the 32-year-old midfielder added 50,000 Twitter followers during those dazzling 16 minutes of play. Lloyd's website had to be rerouted to a dedicated server to handle the surge of visitors.
But her endorsement prospects are solid for reasons that go beyond the win over Japan, spectacular as it was. In addition to being a stellar performer, Lloyd is a highly likeable professional with a squeaky-clean reputation. Unlike Hope Solo, who was arrested in June on two counts of domestic violence, Lloyd has no known skeletons in her closet.
"She doesn't have a bad track record," Fernandez said. "She's a professional and maintains her integrity. There have been only positives about her during this whole World Cup experience."
David Burfeind, chief strategy officer at creative shop The VIA Agency, said Lloyd is among an emerging group of young stars that have both talent and character, which he called "an extraordinary combination for a marketer."
The brands that come knocking are likely to be those seeking to promote fitness and healthy living, according to Raih. Nutritional supplements company Usana Life Sciences signed Lloyd as a brand ambassador in September.
But Lloyd has the potential to score with much bigger corporate partners if recent examples are any indication. As Adweek reported last July, U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard received dozens of offers within weeks of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. And those high-dollar opportunities are no longer limited to just the boys. Mia Hamm, who won the Women's World Cup twice (1991 and 1999) and pocketed two Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2004), scored endorsement deals with Nabisco, Gatorade and Nike—which named one the buildings on its corporate campus after her.
Which is not to say that Lloyd can just sit back and wait for the offers to roll in. "It's important to note that she's not only competing with other high-profile athletes," Raih said, "but competing against members of her own team." Alex Morgan, for example, has already inked deals with Coca-Cola, GNC, AT&T and others.
"The bad news is that [soccer stars like Carli Lloyd] are lacking consistent media presence without a full-time league," said consultant Joe Favorito, who teaches sports marketing at Columbia University. But the good news, he added, "is that brands are really recognizing the power of men and women soccer players to speak to a growing young demo."