In the last decade or so, few barriers have remained between the sport of soccer and widespread popularity in America. One of those few, though—and possibly the most important—was that the sport still had yet to produce an American poster boy, someone kids would idolize and marketers would court.
Until now. Tim Howard is the goalkeeper for the US Men’s team. After having an incredible World Cup, especially with a record setting performance against Belgium, he became an “overnight sensation.” (Which amused longtime American fans—Howard is 35 years old and has been a professional for 15 years. This was his third World Cup for the US.) What makes him a perfect marketing partner? He’s an on-field leader for the US. He’s one the best goalkeepers in the famed English league. He’s prone to heroics. He knows how to persevere (having grown up battling Tourette’s Syndrome and the stigma that comes with it). He’s also exotically handsome—he’s the son of African American dad and a Hungarian mom, and he’s heavily heavily tattooed. This led ADWEEK to run a feature on Tim Howard last week, discussing his endless, lucrative potential as brand partner and spokesperson.
“the right partner isn’t necessarily the one who knocks first or who offers the most; it’s the one whose mission, values and personality align with yours”
“It’s important that I’m a role model, and that the companies that I associate myself with feel the same way about their own images. Those are companies I’d like to be associated with. I try not to and I don’t think I ever have just jumped at any opportunity because a company wanted me. Just because there was money on the table doesn’t mean that I took it.” This isn’t just a refreshing approach to see from an athlete or celebrity—it reinforces the importance of brand alignment, whether you’re a company or a person. He reminds marketers that the right partner isn’t necessarily the one who knocks first or who offers the most; it’s the one whose mission, values and personality align with yours.