Cristiano Ronaldo's bizarre new gig
When Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is not on the football field he is exercising his face, or so his latest endorsement deal suggests.
Ronaldo has just been launched as the face of a new campaign for Facial Fitness Pao, a Japanese health-care product designed to help consumers "shape up" and "face up".
The Facial Fitness Pao is a long, flexible device which appears to be weighted on the ends. Users bite down on a mouth piece in the centre of the Pao and proceed to nod their head, causing the ends of the device to flap.
The company's website says the movement will exercise your facial muscles and keep your smile bright, or rather keep it like Ronaldo's (although we notice he wasn't contractually obliged to actually put the thing in his mouth unlike the other eager participants!)
It's a new style of endorsement for Ronaldo, who has previously aligned himself with brands such as Nike, Armani and Vogue.
Lecturer in marketing at the University of Adelaide business school, Dr Jasmina Ilicic said even though it's a unique product for a target audience, she can see a natural fit between Ronaldo and the Facial Fitness Pao.
"They do promote it as a fitness related product and he's a sports related celebrity," she said.
"It also seems to be beauty-related and he is an attractive male."
Ronaldo's "attractive" image is also enhanced by his 25 million followers on Twitter and his supermodel girlfriend.
As a brand himself he is incredibly marketable, and has been listed in as the fourth most marketable athlete of 2014 by British magazine, SportsPro.
In previous endorsement videos for brands such as Nike, Ronaldo is seen using the advertised product, for example in the video advertisement for the Nike Mercurial Superfly Vapor II football.
However when it comes to the Facial Fitness Pao, beyond holding it, Ronaldo isn't actually seen using the product.
"I think that can be an issue, not using it," said Dr Ilicic.
"He seems quite distant from it in the beginning, and so there is nothing really relevant to the brand there. I think they just want to borrow his image."
Dr Ilicic has previously studied Jerry Seinfeld's endorsement of Newcastle financial institution, Greater Building Society. A partnership that she said, doesn't really make sense.
"Comedy and banking just don't seem a natural fit to me. But that in itself can also create a lot of publicity and a lot of awareness," she said.
Dr Ilicic said often an unnatural link between a brand and a celebrity can draw more attention, as the familiarity consumers have with the celebrity is transferred to the brand.
Sydney Morning Herald