There is no denying that Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the biggest global brands. If he is not known by his name (highly unlikely) than he has the CR7 brand to back him up. It seems that recently he and his marketing team decided to push the boost button and release more products that bear his name.
Athlete branding and marketing is an interesting world. Marketing of athletes is used to show the fans their favourite athlete in a different light. Most of us set our opinion about an athlete through the way he is visible on the pitch. Whether it is through his performances, body languages and interaction with the media.
When an athlete is involved in marketing activities that are associated with different brands we suddenly learn what the athlete cares about, we encounter a different tone of voice. In Cristiano Ronaldo’s case, his immense quality as a player opened up an entire commercial world for him to exploit and to be exploited through him.
If at first other brands were utilising him, eventually through the establishment of his own brand and the realisation of his power and influence he is the one that sets the tone, what we came to acknowledge as influencers.
Let’s review the list of products and brands Ronaldo is associated with:
Quite an inventory huh?
Now imagine all of these brands under one roof and you have the Cristiano Ronaldo Superstore. Ever since the shift to online purchasing physical stores had to up their game in terms of the in-store buying experience.
I decided to gather some intelligence and headed to the main stores of the four leading sports/football brands: Adidas, Nike, Puma and New balance in London. Apart from Puma which is located on Carnaby Street all the rest are on the ever-busy Oxford Street (Get out of my way and lift your face from your phones people!!!) I also paid a visit to Pro Direct, a leading football wear online store with a unique physical store off Carnaby Street.
The findings in terms of the in-store experience, let’s put it this way, there’s work to be done. I began with Adidas where the only digital engagement was to leave feedback on a touchpad and a football shirt printing station.
The next stop was New Balance, where instead of feedback there was a station to join a runner’s club and engage with an online community. In addition, there was a stand to customize and design a New Balance shoe.
Then I arrived at Nike-town. The largest of stores in my quest. At the Nike store, there’s the option to have a trial run to test running shoes, shirt printing, football boot trial in a cage with artificial grass and bra fitting. There was also the Nike ID station for customizing sneaker etc. and finally the Nike sneaker cube which was closed for a future event.
Puma time! Which was very short as there was basically nothing to enhance the experience. I would argue that it may be due to the size of the store but my final visit to Pro-Direct which is smaller was more engaging. The store is dedicated to football boots but in the basement floor customers could engage with touch screens and choose full outfits and in return, their choice activated a virtual model on a full body screen in front of them. On one of the side walls (see picture) there were fun stuff like social media updates and the team of the week by boots. On the opposite wall, there was a PS4 station which was not active at the moment.
So, many examples, right? In my vision of a Cristiano Ronaldo Super Store the experience is much more enhanced.
Let’s take the boot trial cage from Nike. Thanks to technologies such as VR and AR we can now replicate certain situations. Imagine the cage combined with a VR/AR set that replicates key moments in Ronaldo’s career for the customer to try and emulate. Building from that, Ronaldo’s physical abilities are immense. A part of the store can be set up with challenges for customers to test their abilities against Ronaldo’s results.
The basement floor or rooftop can be used for 5-a-side rental pitches and if not 5-a-side then perhaps a CR7 gym. Essentially, each of the products the CR7 brand has can have its own floor. As for the associated brands, the entry level can become like an expo area and it’s a good way for the brands to activate their partnership with Ronaldo.
I could go on and on with creative ideas but I think the point is clear. I’m not saying that the Super Store needs to be a Selfridges or an El Corte Ingles but it has the potential to act as unique landmark in the athlete marketing and physical sports stores scenes.