With the announcement of the FIFA Ballon d’Or shortlist, the spotlight again falls on two of football’s current greats, four-time winner, Lionel Messi and two-time winner and current holder of the title, Cristiano Ronaldo. But how do the pair compare off the pitch?
Of the 15 markets analysed, it was found that 92% of people know of Ronaldo whilst 87% have heard of Messi. Of those markets, only two had a higher percentage of people that knew of Lionel Messi over Cristiano Ronaldo; Messi’s native, Argentina and China.
The figures come from Repucom’s Celebrity DBI tool which measures public perceptions of more than 7,000 personalities around the world. Based on eight defining metrics including public ‘awareness’ and ‘appeal’, an overall marketability or DBI score is generated.
The results also showed that the same percentage of men know of Messi, as women know of Ronaldo (91%). 94% of men know of the Real Madrid’s talisman, whilst 84% of women know the Barcelona forwards. It is these high awareness figures that help to make Ronaldo the most marketable football player in the world.
Mike Wragg, global head of research at Repucom, said: “Off the pitch, these two superstars of world football both rank highly in terms of public perception. Whilst we look at eight metrics which combine to generate an overall score of someone’s marketability, people’s awareness and the extent to which that population like the player are very important determents and it’s interesting to see just how much they vary around the world.
“Cristiano Ronaldo dominates in terms of his overall marketability – largely because of the consistently high levels of awareness people have of him around the world, whilst Messi has a greater proportion of people that do know of him saying they like him.
“Whilst it is interesting to see how these values compare, understanding, tracking and reacting to these key measurements and changes in public perception are vital for marketers and sponsors to better position their brands through the relationships they have or want to have with such public figures.”
Cristiano Ronaldo’s annual endorsement earnings of approximately $22.5m also emphasise his dominance off the pitch. Lionel Messi generates approximately $21.25m from his endorsements per year. The value of Ronaldo’s interaction online is also greater than Messi’s. The Portuguese star has over 102m Facebook followers, where Repucom calculate his average Facebook post value in 2014 to be worth $143,750. This compares to Messi’s 75m Facebook fans and average Facebook post value being worth $62,500.
This engagement with fans online certainly helps to boost public awareness amongst the younger generations. Today, 94% of 18-24 year olds know of Real Madrid’s Ronaldo and 93% know of Barcelona’s Messi.
However, whilst more people in this age group know of Ronaldo, Messi enjoys a bigger proportion of people within this group (72%) saying they like the player. Indeed, of the over 55’s that do know of the Argentine forward (81%), 80% say they like him, which demonstrates the highest proportion of any age group amongst both players.
Of the 87% of people who know of Messi, in total, 78% say they like him and 26% say the like him a lot, which compares to the 92% of people that know of Ronaldo, where 68% say they like him and 18% say they like him a lot.
Of those markets tested, the US population had the lowest awareness of both players. 30% of people in the US knew of Lionel Messi, whist 40% knew of Ronaldo.
This compares to the other end of the spectrum where 99% of people in his native Argentina know of Messi and 99% of Brazilians and Spaniards having heard of Ronaldo.