artisanal work, with an alien, in a virgin market


When it came to creating an image management plan to present to Endrick’s family, Fabio Wolff didn’t have many references. Abroad, yes, there were plenty of successful athletes endorsing brands, being their spokespersons, ambassadors. But in Brazil, the market was virgin in this field.

Wolff then looked to two examples he considered ideal: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The challenge then was to think of something for the Brazilian reality, that could connect with the local culture. Instead of established tennis players, a beginner footballer. A third example came from Endrick: Cristiano Ronaldo.

Palmeiras’ number 9 is obsessed with the eternal number 7 of Real Madrid. From him, he inherited dedication well above average in training and an extreme sense of competitiveness.

The ingredients were in place. It was from this mixture, with a Brazilian twist, that the public persona of the Palmeiras striker would emerge in the advertising and marketing market. The only thing missing was the final ingredient, which was the player himself.

“He’s an alien,” says Fabio Wolff of Wolff Sports and Marketing, the image management and sponsorship agency that works for Endrick. All of Wolff’s meticulous and careful work would fall apart if Endrick wasn’t part of it.

“It was a craftsmanship. There was no Endrick to serve as a mirror, as will be the case with the next athletes,” he explains.

Palmeiras’ number 9 was the first athlete to have his image managed entirely by Fábio, who had already been in the market for more than two decades when he received the invitation from Frederico Pena, from ROC Nation, who manages the player.

“Endrick doesn’t feel the weight of situations, he enjoys the moments. He debuts at a packed Wembley and doesn’t feel the weight. He debuts at a packed Santiago Bernabéu and doesn’t feel the weight. And it’s the field that drives everything,” he adds.

“When I was 17, I was a lot less mature than him. This certainly has to do with his story, of having left where he came from, of coming to São Paulo with his family.”

Myopic businesspeople vs. robot athletes

Endrick, from Palmeiras, during training, at Allianz Parque. (Photo: Cesar Greco/Palmeiras/by Canon)

One of the reasons why few players endorse brands in Brazil is precisely the players. Many footballers, including big stars, have deplorable behavior, says Fabio. There is a lack of local culture to even understand this type of sponsorship, which involves building an image.

“There are many myopic businessmen, who think that good contracts come with goals, in an organic way. But image is not about performance, it is a construction. There are many businesspeople who scoff when we talk about building an image. In terms of off-field management, a good performance does not guarantee good contracts if the player’s image is not positive”, says Wolff.

“But I don’t want him to be a robot. Everything we see Endrick do came from Endrick himself”, guarantees the manager.

When he spoke about Bobby Charlton to the press at Wembley, he did it because he saw his card in the FIFA video game and decided to go after it, research it. According to Fabio, Endrick is passionate about football, he researches and reads about it. Football is his passion, he guarantees.

The Palmeiras shield with which he got involved, after scoring the goal that took Palmeiras to the final of the Campeonato Paulistawas also his idea, without direction.

Life can’t be hell

Endrick enters the field to shine for the first time at the Santiago Bernabéu (Photo: Rafael Ribeiro/CBF)

The idea for Endrick is to work with a few brands that speak to him and his and his family’s history. Another requirement is to always sign long contracts, so as not to trivialize the player’s image. Except in some cases, like with the official album of Copa America and the promotion of Champions League on TV, with Warner Media.

Having few, but strong partnerships, allows Endrick to have a relatively normal life for a football player. The plans designed for him include time with his family, his girlfriend and playing video games.

“His life can’t be hell,” says Wolff.

As part of the plan, there are also actions for social causes. At the beginning of this year, Endrick and his family spent the day at Graac (Support Group for Adolescents and Children with Cancer), to learn about the work, before the player became an ambassador for the institution.

“His family is good. It’s a cliché to say, but it’s completely true in his case. They understand the work we do with it and absorb what is past. It’s a family of humble origins, but they’re very open to talking, interested, and looking for the best possible for him.”

Endrick will arrive in Europe open to new partnerships. Wolff, who has already carried out specific sponsorship activations for top athletes such as Neymar, Zico, Raphinha and Rayssa Leal, knows that he has something very different under contract. How far can Endrick go?

“As his mother likes to say, Endrick was born to be a striker. There’s no way to know. We don’t put up barriers”, projects the businessman.

Start / Brazil / The creation of Endrick: artisanal work, with an alien, in a virgin market

The article is in Portuguese

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