Zlatan – the celebrity endorsement king
When Swedish football legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic chose Instagram to reveal he is joining Manchester United yesterday you could hear the kerching of a million cash registers echoing across the globe.
Here’s a man, not renowned for being a shrinking violet, who with one simple hashtag – #IAmComing – instantly set the marketing world on fire.
The world’s biggest football character, certainly since the heady days of Eric Cantona, is on his way to play for the world’s biggest football club, in the world’s biggest football league. And the moneymen who leech a living from the Premier League could have started a forest fire such was the ferocity of their hand-rubbing.
With almost 4 million followers on Twitter and 15.7 million followers on Instagram, Zlatan is a man who wields so much influence on social media that cash-rich brands, at least those who can afford it, will be throwing women and children behind them just to get to the front of the queue to present him with an endorsement proposal.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Man. Myth. Uber brand.
Yesterday he chose Instagram to post a moody silhouetted picture of himself standing next to a Volvo car. The message accompanying the image, a reference to his imminent move to Manchester, was perhaps not hugely subtle: “For me it is all about looking forward, not back. A new journey is starting – both for me and for @volvocars. #MadeBySweden.”
But it was massively effective for the brands involved, Volvo and Brand Zlatan. Within two hours it had garnered almost 400,000 likes and thousands of comments. Zlatan-power.
His next post, debuting on Instagram less than four hours after his moody shot for Volvo, revealed he was joining Manchester United for the new football season. It got a million likes within an hour. And, so far, has attracted more than 87,000 comments.
It is one of a rare handful of posts on his Instgram page that doesn’t feature an image of the man himself; the others being mainly his own signature cologne – the modestly titled Zlatan Ibrahimovic Supreme.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic knows his value, the power of his endorsement as a commodity, the value of his own personal amplification for brands. He’s a multi-millionaire marketer as well as a football legend.
There will be an unholy catfight to harness his power for brands now his Manchester United deal is confirmed. Brands which have the spending power would be silly to ignore it too.
It is accepted that a standard celebrity endorsement usually results in a 4% sales lift for the brand involved. With Zlatan, that power and influence over the sale is, as you’d expect, seriously turbo-charged.
From a PR perspective, there’s even more to love. Zlatan’s social media footprint is gold for PR campaigns. There’s a very good reason he earns $7m every year from brand endorsements alone.
His latest personal brand is a Swedish healthy drinks company called Vitamin Well. And the firm was quick to utilise Zlatan’s legendary persona for brand endorsement, outside the realms of straight advertising.
Zlatan was used to front the drink’s brand in its latest recruitment drive when he was surprisingly wheeled in to interview unsuspecting job candidates. The whole thing was videoed and pumped out for hugely shareable and engaging content.
Job interviews can be a tense enough affair so imagine sitting across from a 6ft 5in man with a black belt in taekwondo who proclaims himself a god and has a tendency to threaten to break peoples legs.
Zlatan is renowned for his towering personality and often outrageous and forthright one-liners, so Vitamin Well made much in their video of the reactions of job hopefuls when they found themselves sitting across from him.
Hilarity (and massive shares of the video) naturally ensued. And, of course, proved that PR is the place where brand and personality blend most naturally for marketing purposes.
And so to next week, when Zlatan finally inks his lucrative football contract with Manchester United. Cue an unholy media circus.
But the best bit of this whole Zlatan and Manchester United marriage will be the PR sideshow – watching the Ibrahimovic circus unfold with gusto amid the inevitable brand fist-fight to get him signed up.
We’ll be tuning in with interest.
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