Madrid (AFP) – He may not have added the World Cup to his Euro 16 success and hattrick of Champions Leagues.
But with another Ballon d’Or looking likely and a move to Juventus complete, Cristiano Ronaldo’s status is as much that of multinational as footballer.
The 33-year–old had long ago moved onto another plane in his nine years at the Bernabeu as the galactico of galacticos.
Sporting Lisbon first nurtured his talents before Manchester United launched the process of turning him into a global icon over six years at Old Trafford.
But his Real achievements have transformed the Portuguese into the Beautiful Game’s megastar who now embarks on a fresh challenge at a “new stage in his life”
After five Ballons d’Or and countless trophies, as well as more than a goal a game in his time with Real to capture 15 trophies, Ronaldo has nothing more to prove on the pitch as he heads for Turin on a four-year contract worth 30 million euros ($35 million) per season.
His 34 hattricks in Spain are a record for La Liga, but one triple crown he missed out on this year was as the best paid athlete on the planet.
Ronaldo had basked in the accolade for the past two years, but this time Forbes magazine gave that particular title to longtime rival Lionel Messi ahead of boxer Floyd Mayweather.
That, and a last 16 World Cup exit was sweetened by the knowledge that still he pulled in $108 million over the past 12 months — 61 million in wages and the remainder in various endorsements.
Accused by the Spanish taxman of hiding some of his off-field earnings Ronaldo agreed last month to pay 18.8 million euros to avoid jail.
As befits a man of his renown, CR7 has no fewer than 330 million “followers” on social media — more than any other athlete, meaning sponsors queue to make him the face of their merchandise.
– Nike for life –
Those sponsors include French telecoms giant SFR, Swiss watch firm Tag Heuer, Japanese gaming conglomerate Konami, oil behemoth Castrol and the Emirates airline.
That breadth and depth of marketing reach means there is no risk of his being reduced to a mere “advertising hoarding,” Jean-Philippe Danglade, author of “Marketing et Celebrities,” told AFP recently.
His strongest association, going back to 2003, is with Nike with whom he two years ago signed a new long-term sponsorship deal worth a minimum reported 20 milion euros a year and that he indicated was “for life.”
Marca suggested if certain non publicly-specified goals are met, the annual value of the deal could be worth around 40 million.
“It’s the best contract I’ve had in my entire career,” he noted.
Forbes drew a comparison between the ‘bling-bling’ image of Ronaldo and the more reserved image of Messi.
Whereas in 2016 Messi reportedly lifted Adidas sales by an estimated $53.3 million, the Ronaldo effect lifted Nike into the stratosphere by some 500 million.
– Multimillion media post –
A simple Ronaldo post to social media can shift millions, as witnessed by a post to Instagram after Portugal won Euro 2016 which according to sports sponsorship valuation platform Hookit was worth $5.8 million to Nike.
Juventus shares on the Milan stock exchange jumped nearly 40% since June 28 when rumours of Renaldo’s arrival began to solidify. Shares fell mnore tha six percent early Wednesday on profit-taking.
As sportsman-cum-entrepreneur Ronaldo also took a sartorial leaf out of the book of Real galactico predecessor and fashion icon David Beckham and basketball legend Michael Jordan to push sports gear to similar heights which the former England star and Jordan, notably with his “Jumpman” logo, had achieved before him.
“It’s the little black book of illustrated marketing,” says Danglade, researcher at Kedge Business School, noting how Ronaldo’s image straddles everything from product, to service, to digital interface.
Such huge marketing reach is “extremely rare. Madeira airport bears his name. In terms of (entering) the collective imagination it’s truly impressive.”
The 2006 opening of a CR7 underwear line in his native was barely an opening off-field gambit for Ronaldo, who has branched out not least in the fashion stakes into jeans, shoes and sundry accessories.
Three years ago he teamed up with his country’s leading hotel chain, Pestana, for a joint venture to build five CR7 branded hotels as the chain targets a greater slice of the international luxury accommodation market.
With his off-the-field interests covered, Ronaldo can concentrate on his upcoming Italian job, showcasing his brand in a country where fashion and football happily co-exist in a market seemingly tailor made for his twilight on-pitch years.
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