By Steve Ginsburg
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Carli Lloyd has the personality and grit to become the next advertising sensation but the World Cup star should start aggressively hitting the market because of the limited interest in women's soccer in the United States, analysts said on Monday.
Lloyd had three goals in the first 16 minutes to lead the Americans to a 5-2 victory over Japan in the finals of the Women's World Cup on Sunday in Vancouver, British Columbia.
"She has what all corporate America is searching for - humility, intelligence, a sense of drama and aggression to her game," said Rick Horrow, chief executive of Horrow Sports Ventures.
"And let's not forget a record-setting hat trick in a dominant U.S. performance as well."
Lloyd, 32, is a two-time Olympic gold medal-winning midfielder who plays for the Houston Dash of the fledgling National Women's Soccer League. The New Jersey native scored six goals in seven World Cup games.
"She's certainly more marketable than she was even 48 hours ago," said David Carter, executive director of the USC (University of Southern California) Sports Business Institute.
"But the World Cup is one of the periodic events and it's going to be up to her representatives to figure out how to maintain that after America gets back to baseball and starts to prepare for training camps of the National Football League."
While the NWSL is struggling to find its niche in the sporting landscape, the Women's World Cup was a rating bonanza.
An estimated 20.3 million people watched the finals on Fox television in the United States, according to preliminary data from Nielsen, a record high for a soccer match in America. Last year's U.S. match against Portugal in the men’s World Cup drew 18.2 million viewers on ESPN and ESPN2.
A.J. Maestas, president of a sports marketing research firm, Navigate, said Lloyd was "extremely" valuable because there were not that many marketable female athletes.
"There are only a handful of Olympians that you see once every four years," he said. "There's far less competition in being a broadly visible female athlete."
Horrow said Lloyd's representatives should have been on the phone with Madison Avenue advertising agencies "at halftime" on Sunday because soccer interest in the United States wanes after the World Cup.
But he added the advertising industry was looking for a women's soccer star to highlight following the storied career of Abby Wambach, "and we absolutely, unequivocally found it."
(Reporting by Steve Ginsburg; Editing by Peter Cooney)