World no.1 Rafael Nadal is to succeed football icons David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo as the male face of Emporio Armani Underwear and Armani jeans.
The 24 year-old Spaniard is now building a massive portfolio of endorsement deals with concerns such as Richard Mille watches, Mapfe SA (Spain’s largest insurance company), Kia Motors, Lanvin fragrances and of course Nike Inc. and Babolat.
Even the most conservative estimates maintain that Nadal’s commercial appeal will boost his annual earnings to somewhere comfortably in excess of $US 40 million a year. With three major titles to his credit in 2010 he has collected $10,171,998in prize money alone.
Simon Chadwick, a professor of sports business strategy and marketing at the Coventry University Business School in England, confidently predicted: “Nadal will even transcend the Federer brand.”
Nadal’s first campaign shots for Armani will not be released until in the New Year and the decision to switch sporting focus for its’ underwear brand from football to tennis is seen as a bold move in a sector of male fashion that is worth more close to $US 10 billion a year.
Armani’s campaign involving Real Madrid and Portugal star Ronaldo was deemed a success across global markets. Other fashion companies including Milanese rivals Dolce and Gabbana recruited the entire Italian World Cup squad.
The only tennis player to previously make a global impact on the underwear market was Bjorn Borg who started his own brand in Sweden that became a worldwide concern.  Patrick Rafter is the current image of Bonds underwear in Australia.
Interestingly, no one at Armani seems to realize the irony of signing Nadal who is notorious for taking time between points for readjustment because he habitually seems to struggle with the fit of his underwear.

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