Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has recently signed a 3 year endorsement contract with Samsung electronics, to promote the company's smartphone, tablet and TV products. At present, the contract only covers her native Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, but her the deal might expand globally sometime next year. According to Sharapova's agent Max Eisenbud, “Maria really hasn’t been marketed that much in Russia - It’s important to her because that’s where her roots are. I also felt that was a really untapped market, with the 2014 Sochi Olympics coming up.”
Sharapova, who shot to fame after winning Wimbledon at age 17, once was the highest paid athlete in the world. She presently pulls in about $25 million a year, and endorses companies including Nike, Tag Heuer, Tiffany & Co. and Evian water. Sharapova, who is currently ranked at #2 in women's tennis worldwide, is no neophyte in regards to endorsing mobile devices - she'd previously promoted Motorola products via her Digital Sharapova Experience, and also shot unboxing videos and made public appearances for Sony Ericsson.
Regarding the tennis star's upgrade to Samsung, Eisenbud states, “Maria had a positive experience, and a positive four years with Sony Ericsson - Now we are just looking forward to a new partnership with a great brand.” Sony Ericsson, who signed a record $88 million endorsement deal with the women’s tennis tour in 2005, won’t extend its agreement with the WTA when it expires at the end this year.
It is unlikely that Samsung will dissolve as an independent entity like Sony Ericsson, or be bought by Google like Motorola, after dealings with Sharapova, though they are apparently willing to take the gamble.