In the crowded advertising landscape, businesses are constantly looking for ways to differentiate their products. Using celebrity status has long been a staple of marketing and advertising, but tennis star, Maria Sharapova is taking that concept to the next level. A recent USA Today Sports article discussed how Sharapova is attempting to combine product placement with her star status.
The stunt? Sharapova is changing her name to “Sugarpova” for the two weeks of the U.S. Open in order to promote her line of candy with the same name. Sharapova has reportedly asked the Florida Supreme Court to fast track her request in time for the Open. There are questions about whether or not the name change would get approved by the court, nevermind whether or not the USTA would actually use the name in its official rosters and other materials. The USA Today article also asks the question of whether not not TV coverage would use the new name since it would be only temporary.
These questions though, are somewhat irrelevant since it seems that regardless of approvals, Sharapova has already achieved her goal to a degree. If news outlets like USA Today and others are covering the attempted name change, Sharapova is already getting a ton of free press for her line of gummy candy. As they say, any press is good press.
Sharapova’s stunt calls to mind similar attempts at generating buzz around a product. A recent trend is the annual list of “banned Super Bowl ads.” Company’s often produce ads knowing they will not get approved to run during the telecast and then attempt to create viral intrigue by driving people to the “banned” ad. It seems with all the hoops Sharapova would have to jump through in order to push through the name change, she (or her publicity team) may be trying something similar.
We’ll have to stay tuned to see if Maria Sugarpova ends up playing in the U.S. Open, but it’s already clear that she just aced the media in getting some buzz gratis.