How Floyd Mayweather became sport’s biggest one-man brand

So wrote Floyd Mayweather on his Instagram account late last month, pictured on his private jet with, in front of him, twenty-five stacks of 100-dollar bills, about his upcoming megabucks, mega-hyped Las Vegas fight with UFC star Conor McGregor. Definitive Mayweather - Mayweather the Brand. Brash, boastful and arrogant, as befitting one of the greatest fighters the world has seen, who has built his image on being the man you would love to see lose, but who never does. But Mayweather is also a man who has built a business empire around that image which, in concept and scale, is unparalleled among sport’s star names.Their stories and business models are familiar. Big salaries and big endorsements. Take the cheques and let others – team owners, broadcasters, sponsors – take the risk. But also the upside.For the first half of his career, Mayweather was on this well-trodden path. Part of Top Rank’s stable of fighters, he took his cheques, beat all comers, and made his name, his pay-per-view debut coming in 2004.But then, in 2006, he pivoted, turning down the highest purse of his career - $8million - and buying himself out of his Top Rank contract for $750,000 to become a free agent.

And he changed his nickname from ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd to Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather.

Many have speculated what it was that prompted this change of direction. His violent, deprived, childhood. A deep distrust of the sporting establishment caused by his disputed, controversial loss in the semi-final of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – the last fight he lost. What he saw and learnt at Top Rank.

Whatever it was, it worked.

He set up his own boxing promotional firm, Mayweather Promotions. He made $25million from his 2007 fight against Oscar De La Hoya, which smashed previous revenue and pay-per-view records.

But most importantly, he had control.

Over the next ten years, through thirteen fights, two retirements, two returns, 87 days in jail, Mayweather has taken his career earnings alone to $700 million, the vast majority of it since he bought himself out of Top Rank, and broken every boxing financial record.

Of the top ten highest-grossing fights in history, Mayweather has been involved in seven. The other three fights in that list are all at heavyweight level, widely perceived as boxing’s top draw. Wrong. Mayweather punches above his weight as a marketer too.

His legendary 2015 fight against Manny Pacquiao alone generated more than $600 million and is the highest-grossing one-day sporting event ever.

And at the centre of it all Mayweather has been both fighter and ringmaster, highly reminiscent of F1’s former ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone in taking a cut of any and every revenue stream: broadcasting, ticketing, merchandising, sponsoring, catering – everything.

Hence his take from the Pacquiao fight alone of $240 million, and his monopoly over recent years of another title, that of the highest-paid athlete on the planet.

As a marketer, in terms of dollars generated, he has no equal in sport.

So it may not be long before, as he said last month in Brooklyn on one of the stops to promote the upcoming McGregor fight, that 'They’re gonna talk about this business move at Harvard.'

He also delights in firing back at his critics, among whose many allegations is that he Mayweather cannot read. His response? He can count – in Benjamins.

And he’s going to see a lot more of them before he’s done. Starting on August 26th.

This article originally appeared in the Daily Telegraph here.

Synergy Spotlight

As the Women’s Rugby World Cup kicks off today and the hype around the Red Roses ramp up, we’ve been talking to the RFU’s Director of Digital, Marketing and Communications – Joanna Manning-Cooper about her experience in the sports industry. Read August’s Spotlight is here.

1. Your career in a paragraph?

+20 years in front line communications and marketing roles in fmcg, media and sport

2. The highlight of your career to date?

Probably London 2012 – I was Head of Media and PR and it was a once in a lifetime project to be part of. But I’ve enjoyed all my roles.

3. Please describe yourself in 3 words.

Dreaming of sunshine

4. What is the key to your success?

You can’t achieve anything without hard work.

5. Who inspired you and why?

Marjorie Scardino (I was Director of Communications at the Financial Times when she ran Pearson). She was always brave, imaginative and decent.

6. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t be afraid of what’s on the other side of the mountain. Something my wonderful Mum said many a time, and , as always, she was right.

7. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Enjoy this special time before real life responsibilities kick in.

#NeymarPSG – The View From Brazil

Brazil is naturally buzzing about Paris St Germain’s swoop for Neymar. Even with the Brasileirão at full throttle and the Libertadores reaching its knockout stages, Brazilian football has had to share the spotlight with the latest in the #NeymarPSG news cycle.

The soap opera, as Brazilians call these long player negotiations, lit football afficionados (ie everybody!) and the media on fire. There is a consensus that PSG is paying an obscene amount of money. Fox Sports pointed out that Neymar’s world record price tag would buy every player in the Brasileirão’s top four clubs. And a UOL columnist highlighted that for the same money PSG could buy the other ten first choice players in Brazil’s national team.

Santos fans, however, couldn’t wait for the move to happen as they will receive a sell-on fee from Barca having previously sold Neymar to them in 2013!

Fans and the media have also been discussing Neymar’s motivations for leaving Barcelona.

Alongside, obviously, the money, most also agree that being the star at club level, as he is in the national team, and stepping out of Lionel Messi’s shadow, have played their part. It’s also assumed, in most people’s view, that this will give Neymar a better chance of winning the coveted Ballon D’Or.

As to Neymar’s image in Brazil, although he gets criticism from some for being spoiled and a bragger, he is still worshipped by most Brazilians, and if he maintains his on-field performances for the national team, his status as the country’s top sports icon won’t be affected, and may even increase - depending, in particular, on how Brazil performs in the 2018 World Cup. And as a PSG player Neymar’s exposure in Brazil will stay high, as the Champions League is shown free-to-air here.

Meanwhile Neymar’s move does inevitably impact Barcelona’s positioning in Brazil.

The long list of Brazilian stars that have worn the Barca shirt have helped make Barcelona Brazil’s most popular international club. How much Neymar’s exit will affect this is hard to predict, but will surely depend on the club’s recruitment of other Brazilian stars.

Meanwhile PSG will surely look to leverage Neymar and their other Brazilian players to sign Brazilian companies as sponsors.

Neymar’s father’s company, who together with the agent Wagner Ribeiro represent Neymar, are in pole position for this contract. They have previously represented Barca in Brazil, closing deals with local brands like Tenys Pé. And only this week, Centauro, the biggest sport apparel retailer in Brazil, announced an exclusive partnership with the club.

A new era of Neymarketing is about to begin.

by Guilherme Guimarães of Ativa Esporte, Synergy’s partner in Brazil

Investigating the commercial landscape of women’s football and why it’s in better shape than ever

"There is a very strong brand and economic case for why a brand would sponsor women’s football. One in five women are the main breadwinners in the family. There is a fast growing female economy - women have increased financial stability and, huge buying power – and yet our research shows that women don’t believe they are being represented in brand marketing. Football in particular is a brilliant and powerful metaphor for what women can achieve.”

Read the full article here.