Hunky football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is immediately recognizable around the world (that gorgeous face!). But stuff him into a padded suit, add scruffy facial hair and ratty clothes and he can hang out undetected even in bustling Madrid, where his team plays. Even a soccer ball and fancy footwork can't give him away.
That's the setup of a just-launched video to announce the athlete's foray into consumer electronics, namely headphones and portable speakers. Posted on Facebook, with no paid media push around it, the video has racked up 33 million views in two days. It also has nearly 900,000 shares, 1.4 million likes and 100,000 comments. At one point on Monday, the digital piece was attracting nearly 1 million views every half-hour, outpacing even YouTube's "Ad of the Decade" with Lionel Messi and Kobe Bryant.
The four-minute video, shot in a busy plaza in Madrid, comes from Los Angeles-based Shareability, which is a co-owner with Ronaldo, and Incubrand of the new ROC Live Life Loud brand. Execs there said a prank-style approach made sense for the famous Real Madrid forward.
"He's a very serious guy who plays and trains 98 percent of the time, so we wanted to show him in a way he's never been seen before," said Tim Staples, one of Shareability's founders. "We thought it would be really fun to take the biggest athlete in the world and hide him in plain sight."
Ronaldo, like many U.S. entertainers before him, is wading into the hot tech and audio market. The new company has a partnership with manufacturer Monster, which is presently embroiled in a lawsuit against celebrity headphone pioneer Beats by Dre over Monster's role in the design of Beats products—a fight that's now also soured Monster's relationship with Apple, Beats' new owner.
In other words, Monster is chasing market share by pairing with another huge name, and all the cachet that brings. Though the U.S. may be flooded with gadgets like the one Ronaldo is now hawking, global territories where the soccer star is hugely popular have plenty of room for growth, Staples said. And Ronaldo's 105 million Facebook followers have gotten the ball rolling, so to speak, proving that his nascent brand can make a name for itself without traditional advertising.
The headphones themselves, at $200 and up, aren't exactly an impulse buy, so time will tell if the video's popularity converts to sales. But the short film, even if it weren't a commercial on the down-low, would have its own charm. One passing pedestrian refuses to give Ronaldo her phone number—she must really regret that now—and in the end, a beaming kid gets to unexpectedly meet an idol—not to mention the priceless look of confusion on his face when a bearded rando starts autographing a ball for him.
Check out a behind the scenes clip below.