Cristiano Ronaldo's Body, Sponsorship Machine: An Anatomical Guide
Cristiano Ronaldo is the most famous player in the world’s most popular sport. He looks like somebody animated a Ken doll, grafted it with the DNA of Elvis Presley, and gave it a soccer ball. This makes the Real Madrid forward one of the most in-demand endorsers. Brands want to be associated with everything from his powerful right foot to the occasionally frosted tips of his hair. Nike (NKE) pays him almost $10 million per year to wear its cleats and apparel.
But it’s not all blue-chip brands in the Ronaldo portfolio.
This week he caused a minor sensation with his endorsement on Japanese television of an exercise device called the Facial Fitness PAO. Made by Shun Hing Life & Beauty, whose website lists a Hong Kong address, the device looks like a small propeller. Users insert it in their mouths and then bob their heads in a ridiculous-looking routine that Ronaldo, by the looks of it, hadn’t seen before he went on TV. The idea is to tone and tighten muscles in the face. In a YouTube video promoting the product, Ronaldo conspicuously leaves it out of his mouth, although his testimonial on the company’s website offers this: “In my everyday training sessions there is one area of my body that I hadn’t been exercising: my facial muscles. That is, until I discovered PAO.”
It’s not the first odd moment in Ronaldo marketing history. Last year he deleted a message on Twitter thanking boys for participating in an underwear competition hosted by his personal CR7 brand.
Ronaldo is represented by super soccer agent Jorge Mendes, whose agency Gestifute formed a partnership with CAA Sports in 2008. That arrangement helps bring off-the-field deals to Gestifute’s marketing wing, Polaris Sports. For those keeping track at home, here’s the Ronaldo portfolio broken down by body part: