Japanese carmaker Nissan Motor announced on Thursday that it has signed Naomi Osaka, the just crowned U.S. Open champion as its new brand ambassador, tapping the drive, youth and Japanese roots of the tennis star to appeal to younger car buyers.
Osaka, who is 20, shot to fame worldwide last Saturday when she beat Serena Williams, who is 36, to become the first Japanese player to win a singles crown in a Grand Slam tournament.
Osaka said during the signing event with Nissan in Yokohama that when she grew up her dad always drove a Nissan so being the brand ambassador at this time feels like she has come full circle.
Nissan said that Osaka is a Beyonce fan and a passionate player of video games. The automaker said she would appear in worldwide promotions and advertising during her three-year contract, which is a big departure for a business, whose popular sports car the GT-R appeals mostly to men 40 years old and older.
Osaka was born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother but raised for the most part in the U.S. She won over tennis lovers for her ferocious serve and down to earth humility.
When asked what she felt like being a bi-racial, high-profile athlete in a country that is largely ethnically homogenous, Osaka said the question really threw her off.
She said she is who she is and does not think she is a mix of three or whatever, she just thinks she is what she is.
Nissan has joined a growing number of businesses that have signed endorsement deals with Osaka including Adidas, Yonex, Nissin Foods, Wowow and Citizen Watch.
Osaka is the most recent sports figure to join Nissan, after Usain Bolt the Jamaican sprinter was the automaker’s director of global excitement between 2012 and 2016.
Last year, Nissan signed Margot Robbie an Australian actress who has promoted the automaker’s electric vehicles.
One analyst in the automotive industry said that having Osaka representing the company gives Nissan an appeal to younger drivers as the automaker looks to expand its sales of its all-battery electric vehicle Leaf, and promote its connected and automated-driving technologies.
However, Osaka told those attending the signing event that her tastes were more towards the sports cars made by Nissan such as the GT-R, because of how fast it is she added.