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Zidane: More Popular Than Ever

He really can do no wrong: following his famous head-butt (you can't really say "infamous" anymore) in the World Cup final, Zinedine Zidane's popularity is as high as ever. And no one is more acutely aware of (or concerned with) these things than advertisers. Says the Wall Street Journal, "the worldwide attention [the head-butt] received has only enhanced Zidane's allure as an advertising pitchman." Indeed. The Journal asked and advertisers responded. "It just added one more layer to his personality," said Lucien Boyer, head of ad agency Havas Sports. "It made him profoundly human." Somehow, the head-butting incident increased his public appeal. "From an advertising point of view, Zidane's emotional charge is twice as big today as it was before the World Cup," said Frederic Raillard of the French agency Marcel. Zidane was even voted the country's favorite personality in a recent newspaper poll in France. Unsurprisingly, all of his sponsors have stood by him. The talk about the explosive incident seemed to further his mythic status across the world by making him even more well-known to non-soccer households. Then there was the endless media speculation about what prompted him to blow his top; people were more interested than outraged. After the final, Adidas proceeded with a newspaper ad that simply read 'To our 10 of hearts, thank you," as if nothing happened. Danone then used Zidane as an ambassador for an international soccer tournament it was sponsoring earlier this month. At the event, Zidane, a father of four, said: "I hope that none of these kids will ever do something like I did. I'll be there to tell them not to do it, just like I tell my kids."

Read the whole story at The Wall Street Journal »

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