(NEW YORK) — Despite a heartbreaking World Cup loss against Belgium on Tuesday, the U.S. soccer team has a break-out star in goalie Tim Howard.
Matt Dzamba, director of sports marketing for California creative agency Zambezi, called Howard the “good news” after the loss, saying he may replace Landon Donovan as the “de facto” face of U.S. soccer.
The 16 saves by Howard, one of the oldest soccer players at the World Cup at 35, were the most recorded in World Cup history. He is already inspiring marketing campaigns from companies.
New York City gym Uplift Studios, for instance, is offering a 16 percent discount on all fitness classes, inspired by Howard’s 16 saves against Belgium.
One Wikipedia user was so impressed with Howard’s performance that an entry for the goalie was added to the page for U.S. Secretary of State.
But the long-term endorsement potential for Howard, who already has a deal with Nike, is yet to be seen.
A spokesman for Everton, Howard’s English soccer club, said figures are not made public, but his new contract signed in April ties him to the team until 2018.
Howard reportedly has a $3 million salary, according to online estimates from ESPN Insider and SportsOverdose.com.
After this World Cup, Robert Tuchman, president of Goviva sports and marketing agency said, Howard has the potential to land endorsement deals in the mid-six figure salary range on this side of the pond, while Dzamba estimates low-seven figure deals.
While Howard has a cult following within the niche U.S. soccer audience, goalkeepers generally already tend to receive less glory compared to the scoring soccer forwards. Still, Dzamba said, a small, dedicated following can have a “halo effect” on a mainstream audience.
“The market will dictate whether he’s used in advertising a year from now or if he’s a cult hero in the Michael Phelps pocket,” Dzamba said.
Is there room for a 35-year-old soccer star?
Tuchman said there is “tremendous opportunity” for Howard, regardless of his age. Tuchman adds that his European career may support his journey to becoming the face of soccer in the U.S. for the next few years.
It’s doubtful that Howard will be able to play in the next World Cup, and even the next summer Olympic games, Dzamba said.
Dzamba said Howard’s blocking moves could easily land him endorsement deals with defense or security companies, or deodorant, sunblock or shaving companies like Gillette.
Geico has done a great job in its insurance ads with former basketball player Dikembe Mutombo, who hasn’t played pro basketball in five years, Dzamba points out.
“We’ll see how willing [Howard] is in engaging the commercial side,” Dzamba said.
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