Ron still growing on & off field

Here's how you can smile like Cristiano Ronaldo, who shows how an MTG face-stretching gadget works at the product launch.
Here's how you can smile like Cristiano Ronaldo, who shows how an MTG face-stretching gadget works at the product launch.PHOTO: FEMALE DAILY

Latest deal in China will ensure he stays more marketable than fellow stars Messi & Neymar

Even on holiday, Cristiano Ronaldo finds a way - just like he dances past opponents on a football field - into the headlines.

The Real Madrid superstar sparked a media frenzy at the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai yesterday, promoting an electric muscle stimulator for sculpting a washboard stomach.

His deal with Japanese wellness brand MTG is just one of a slew of endorsements worth US$27 million (S$36.5 million) annually for the world's highest-paid footballer.

Ronaldo, whose image rights were recently acquired by Singapore billionaire Peter Lim in a six-year deal, is a marketeer's dream. He does the job on the field, and rarely drops the ball off it. There are few - if any - sordid tales of excessive drinking or partying.

"Ronaldo is perfect in terms looks, body and character, but another thing perfect about him is his heart," said MTG president Tsuyoshi Matsushita.

The 30-year-old's work ethic is legendary. He hits the gym twice a day, stays back an hour after training to work on his finishing and embraces science and alternative medicine to maintain a Greek god-like physique.

"I dedicate myself 100 per cent to be the best - I train hard so it's easy during the game," the bronzed wonder told a room packed with more than 300 regional media yesterday.

Whoops broke out from local reporters when the Portugal internationally planted a kiss on the cheek of a female contest winner. The youngster ran off stage in joyous tears, while another had to be restrained by guards from embracing her idol.

Typically a trendsetter, Ronaldo is following former Real star David Beckham in building a brand that lasts long after he decides to hang up those gilded boots.

From shampoo and underwear to fast food and isotonic drinks, the son of a kitman has propelled himself into the stratosphere of marketable athletes.

He even collaborated with MTG on a face-stretching gadget designed to enhance the user's smile.

The forward put it in his mouth publicly for the first time yesterday, as photographers jostled for a perfect shot while his sponsors looked on approvingly.

The cash registers will undoubtedly start to ring.

According to a recent study by sports marketing firm Repucom, he is known to more than 80 per cent of the world's population - a figure not even Barcelona sensations Lionel Messi and Neymar can match.

It has been another newsworthy week for the former Manchester United player. He had stormed out of a television interview in the United States after being quizzed on the future of want-away Real team-mate Sergio Ramos.

But there was reason to smile - without need of his gadget - days later, taking a tourist out to dinner in Las Vegas after stumbling across her mobile phone.

His publicity blitz saw him jet to Tokyo for a local MTG product launch on Wednesday, before his first visit to Shanghai yesterday.

He will return with Madrid's star-studded squad later this month for a pre-season tour.

But not before reminding everyone present at the launch just why he is No. 1 in the world of football economics.

Flashing a megawatt smile and pointing to his admirers yesterday - who were left disappointed after he was escorted backstage, thus denying them the chance to get an autograph and selfie - he declared: "I will be back."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2015, with the headline 'Ron still growing on & off field'. Print Edition | Subscribe