Earlier this week SportsPro released its list of the World’s Top 50 Most Marketable Athletes. The list was created based on an athlete’s marketability over the next three years, using parameters including age, value for money and crossover appeal. Brazilian soccer player Neymar topped the list.
It’s not only the athletes who can lay claim to bragging rights thanks to this list, but the people behind them too – their agents. These are the people who will be capitalizing and negotiating the deals that have made SportsPro see them as a marketing force in the future. So just which agency can boast having the most marketable athletes on their books?
To work out the top agency, each player was awarded points based on their position. Working on a sliding scale, the first placed athlete received 50 points, with the 50th placed athlete receiving 1 point. In the instance when an athlete has different representation for their playing and commercial agreements, the agency who represents their commercial interests will be awarded points. This is important when it comes to 1st place Neymar, whose marketing interests are represented by 9ine agency, while his playing contract is negotiated by Wagner Ribeiro (who also manages 33rd placed Lucas Moura). It is also important to mention that five athletes are self managed. There are also four athletes who have no representation at all. This however will change soon, with 59th ranked NHL prospect Seth Jones yet to sign with an agent. Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports has been rumored as a destination.
Instead of listing every agency who has a player mentioned, the Top 5 will be listed in ascending order.
5th Place: 9ine Agency (55 Points)
Athletes: Neymar (1st), Anderson Silva (46th)
Brazilian based 9ine agency took over Neymar’s commercial interests back in 2011, when the star was only 19. He has been heavily linked with a move to Europe from his native Brazil in a transfer worth around 40 million pounds. Anderson Silva is one of the most popular MMA fighters on the planet, having sponsorship deals with Nike and Brazillian soccer club Corinthians. 9ine agency was formed in part by former soccer superstar Ronaldo.
4th Place: XIX Entertainment (77 Points)
Athletes: Lewis Hamilton (7th), Andy Murray (18th)
Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment boasts a solid roster combining musicians and sports stars, most notably David Beckham. F1 driver Lewis Hamilton switched to Mercedes this season, in a deal worth a reported $100m. Despite rumors Andy Murray was looking to switch agents, the tennis player and his agent recently paired with GloboSport to further enhance his brand.
3rd Place: Creative Artists Agency (CAA) (92 Points)
Athletes: Robert Griffin III (4th), Carmelo Anthony (22nd), Shaun White (35th)
The agency that needs no introduction. CAA has quietly been building their representation for many years now through many strategic acquisitions. Representing over 800 athletes, the company also boasts one of the biggest film and entertainment divisions in the business. It is also worth noting that CAA would be higher in the rankings had LeBron James (14th) not left the company last year.
2nd Place: Lagardere Unlimted (106 Points)
Athletes: Sloane Stephens (9th), Victoria Azarenka (15th), Caroline Wozniacki (23rd)
The Paris based firm has one of the biggest stable of tennis stars, while also managing several tournaments. In recent years, the company has acquired several agencies including Gaylord Sports Management and BEST to develop representation in other sports. Employing over 30,000 people, the company now has a foothold in more than 40 countries.
1st Place: IMG (143 Points)
Athletes: Novak Djokovic (6th), Maria Sharapova (16th), Alex Ovechkin (19th), Lindsey Vonn (26th), Danica Patrick (45th)
Arguably the biggest sports management company on the planet. Despite losing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the past year, their signing of Novak Djokovic saw IMG orchestrating his recent endorsement deal with Uniqlo. Maria Sharapova is a marketing juggernaut, having recently inked a deal with Porsche, and releasing her own line of Candy named ‘Sugapova’.
The company’s other interests are rapidly dwarfing their representation arm, including IMG College; a lucrative division specializing in the marketing and commercial interests of many US Colleges. It has been widely noted that IMG is up for sale, with a recent $2 billion bid being rejected.
Of interest to note is that Octagon, a heavy hitter in the representation stakes, only has one athlete on the list: 40th ranked Laura Robson. Apart from the five agencies listed above, only Wasserman Media Group (WMG) had more than one athlete on the list. Four athletes’ representatives could not be found.