The brand Naomi Osaka: Sponsors
Naomi Osaka is one of the hottest properties in tennis, both on- and off-court. Only 22 and she has already won two majors, five titles in total and topped the world ranking.
Off-court she attracts some of the biggest companies. Especially after she won the 2018 US Open by beating Serena Williams. Osaka is marketable for numerous reasons. Her on-court performances are important of course, but her heritage is as well. Her mother is Japanese, while her father is Haitian American. She was born in Japan, but her family moved to the US early on in her life. Her choice to play tennis under the Japanese flag has resulted in partnerships with several major Japanese companies.
Her marketability is seen in the origin of her sponsors and the amount of big-name sponsors she has, which are on par with a superstar like Roger Federer.
Osaka is young and has an international base, outlook and appeal. This also ensures that she has a bigger reach for sponsors. For the WTA she could not have broken through at a better time as well. Wanting to grow the women’s game in the Asian market, it is easier to succeed if there is a successful player from the area.
So far Osaka has earned almost $13.5 million in career prize money (WTA as of October 2019). She earned over $5.8 million of that in 2019 after winning 3 titles.
The Japanese also earns a lot of money off-court from sponsoring. Forbes estimates that Osaka made around “$16 million for the 12 months ending June 1 (2019)” and this number is sure to rise in the coming years.
Below we take a look at Osaka’s sponsors that contribute to her sponsor income.
Naomi Osaka’s Sponsors
At the moment Osaka has 12 sponsors, including eight Japanese and four American companies (source: Osaka’s website). The brands are active in different industries, from financial services to watches.
|Yonex||Sports equipment||Japan||Long term|
Osaka’s switch to Nike in 2019
At the end of 2018 Osaka’s deal with Adidas ended. During her second Grand Slam win at the 2019 Australian Open she still wore the German brand, despite having no official deal. In April 2019 Osaka and Nike announced her switch to the American brand.
Where Nike normally does not allow for any other shirt sponsors, they have made an exception for the Japanese marketing star. Only Li Na from China had that privilege previously. Osaka has three other sponsors on her clothing: Nissin and ANA on her top and MasterCard on her cap.
Early adopters Yonex, Nissin and Wowow
Japanese sports equipment manufacturer Yonex is a long-term sponsor, providing Osaka with rackets.
Like Yonex, Nissin and Wowow were quick to see Osaka’s potential. Both made deals with Osaka in 2016, while she was at the beginning of her career and before any major results. Nissin is a food manufacturer specialising in instant noodles, while Wowow is a Japanese broadcaster. Both of them also sponsor Japan’s best male player Kei Nishikori.
Watch maker Citizen a good fit with tennis
High-end watch brands and tennis go well together with both industries having the characteristics of elegance and precision. These similarities in image result in many well-known brands like Citizen, Rolex, Richard Mille and TAG Heuer being involved in tennis and sponsoring players (e.g. Federer, Nadal).
Osaka started her partnership with Japanese watchmaker Citizen in 2018, around the time of her first Grand Slam win. Winning the US Open reportedly resulted in a bonus.
In 2019 Citizen teamed up with Marvel Comics to create a superhero character ‘Naomi’ based on the tennis star.
Shiseido and Nissan
Japanese companies Shiseido and Nissan were quick to strike a deal with Naomi Osaka after her US Open championship run.
Shiseido is a consumer goods company and the agreement focuses on the cosmetics category. In particular Shiseido’s sunscreen brand ANESSA and bareMinerals, an American subsidiary of the company.
Nissan is an automobile manufacturer operating throughout the world. In November 2018 they handed Osaka a 2018 Nissan GT-R NISMO.
Airline ANA and confectionery Morinaga
At the beginning of 2019 Osaka added ANA (All Nippon Airways) to her sponsorship portfolio. A major player in the Japanese airline industry and as shirt sponsor visible worldwide during Osaka’s matches. Interesting is that Kei Nishikori is sponsored by competitor Japan Airlines since 2015.
Confectionery company Morinaga partnered with Nishikori in the past and is now a partner of Osaka.
American companies operating internationally
After her Grand Slam wins and given her American heritage and upbringing, it is no surprise that American companies want a slice of the pie as well. And not just small companies want to partner up with Osaka. Nike, one of the biggest apparel companies, of course took over from Adidas in 2019.
Financial services company MasterCard struck a deal in 2019. Included in the deal is their logo being visible on her cap.
Another major name sponsoring Osaka is P&G. The internationally operating consumer goods company smartly works together with Osaka to align with their sponsorship of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. For now Osaka seems to only have done a few commercials, promoting P&G’s brand Ariel in the Japanese market (see video below). However, expect her to feature heavily for the promotion of the Olympics.
Nissin and ANA, like P&G, could also take advantage of sponsoring both Osaka and the 2020 Olympics in the run up to the Games. It is just one reason why Osaka is such a hot sponsorship property at the moment. Her heritage, age, performances and character all explain why she made an estimated $16 million in endorsement income (Forbes). As long as new successes keep coming, this number and the amount of sponsors will only keep on rising.