Jeep, the big winner of the Ronaldo move

Jeep, the big winner of the Ronaldo move

Juventus recently netted the best player in the world, but the true winner could be club sponsor Jeep.

Italian soccer giant Juventus, based in the city of Turin, is paying more than $130 million to lure Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the world’s best-known player, from Spain’s Real Madrid. Yet the Italian team won’t be the only one trying to cash in on the Portuguese footballer’s fame.

33-year-old Ronaldo said he is “grateful for the opportunity” given to him by Juventus, as players of his age “usually go to Qatar or China”.

Ronaldo is one of the best soccer players in the world. After joining Real Madrid in 2009, he scored 451 goals in 438 games, helping the club to win four Champions League titles and two Spanish league titles. Ronaldo earned a reported $61 million dollars in salary and bonuses last year, plus an extra $47 million via endorsements, making him the third-highest paid athlete in the world behind FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi and American boxer Floyd Mayweather.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, whose Jeep logo is emblazoned on the chests of Juventus’ black-and-white-striped jerseys, could get a huge advertising boost in the deal. If Ronaldo were to lead Juventus on a deep run in the UEFA Champions League, European soccer’s marquee tournament, the media exposure for that one year would be worth about $58.3 million, according to Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group Inc.

It would be quite a return on the $20 million Fiat Chrysler pays each year for its Juventus sponsorship.

Juventus on the hunt for Champions League… and commercial possibilities

Ronaldo is currently 33 years old and arguably past his peak as a player, although he did lead Real Madrid to a third consecutive Champions League trophy in May. Yet the real attraction for Juventus – one of the biggest clubs in Italy, but one which has not won a major European championship for many years – will likely be in the commercial possibilities.

Jeep, which makes the iconic Jeep Wrangler, is the crown jewel in Fiat Chrysler’s stable of auto brands. The company forecasts global sales of 1.9 million this year, more than double the 730,000 sold five years ago.

Both Turin-based Juventus and Fiat Chrysler are controlled by Italy’s Agnelli family which has owned Juventus for more than 90 years, and controls Ferrari NV and Fiat Chrysler through its holding company, Exor NV, which owns 64 percent of Juventus.

Earlier this year, Juventus presented a new branding strategy to expand revenue from sales of merchandising internationally. Its efforts come as some of its rivals have been sold to Chinese investors, highlighting the value of Italian soccer teams.

Juventus, winner of a record seven consecutive Serie A championships, has seen its share price rise about 35 percent since talk of a deal for the star player surfaced last week.

The value of Ronaldo to marketers is evident by his huge presence on social media. He has 74.5 million followers on Twitter, compared with 6 million for Juventus and less than 1 million for Jeep. On Instagram, he has 134 million followers, compared with about 10 million for Juventus.


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Paul Imison
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