Many players are capable of spectacular tricks, scoring great
goals, and even thrilling thousands of fans around the world. Few, though, are
able to utilise their personal charisma and business acumen to transform
themselves into a global marketing phenomenon.
Ronaldo is a rarity off the football pitch. Having become an icon in such a
short space of time, Ronaldo was chosen to act as a UN Ambassador and has lent
his image for use in numerous campaigns for peace. In 2000, for example, his
mere presence caused a cessation of conflict in war-torn Kosovo. In 2005, he
travelled on a peace mission to Israel and Palestine, calling on the two divided
peoples to lay down their arms. Several years ago, the UN filmed and broadcast a
TV advert in which the narrator stated: “All the children in the world have one
common dream.” Ronaldo then appeared on the screen and completed the phrase: “To
play,” he said. “Give a child a ball and he will want to play with it. To grow,
to learn...” The advert ended with the narrator concluding: “and to become the
best person possible.” Ronaldo is living testimony of the truth of that slogan.
To get an idea of the Phenomenon's popularity, you just need to consider that,
in 2004, a survey placed him third in a list of the world's most well-known
individuals, behind only Pope John Paul II and US President George W. Bush.
Because of all the good that he has done both on and off the football pitch,
Ronaldo is courted by all of the great brands on the planet, who deem him the
ideal individual to provide the celebrity endorsement that will increase sales
of their products. In 2004, supported by a team of personal consultants, Ronaldo
signed six large advertising contracts with Nike, TIM, Audi, Ambev, Siemens
Mobile and Carrefour. No other Brazilian sportsman has ever generated and been
paid such enormous sums of money. His personal wealth is estimated at around
US$200 million, with annual earnings of about US$55 million. To understand just
how successful endorsements by Ronaldo are, take the case of Ambev, the biggest
drinks producer in Brazil, who signed Ronaldo to inaugurate their factory in
Guatemala in 2005. At the time, the Central American country came to a halt; the
main TV station broadcast a prime-time two hour special on the player's life.
Three months later, Ambev had gained a 40% share of the local market.
Ronaldo has always been a marketing man's dream. Any team that signs him knows
that they will see its stock of shirts with Ronaldo's on the back sell out, even
before the official presentation. The most astonishing thing is that, despite
now being a superstar, Ronaldo has never forgotten his roots, retaining the
simple lifestyle of the ordinary man. Lasagne is still his favorite meal, hip
hop and samba his favourite music and being with his family is his favourite
pastime. And more than anything else, he likes spending time with his son Ronald.