Cristiano Ronaldo & Neymar Jr Star in New PokerStars Social Media and TV Spots, But Will They Work?

August 4th, 2015 | by Jason Reynolds
Cristiano Ronaldo Neymar Jr video spots PokerStars

Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr star in two new rather lenthy PokerStars video spots that have been unveiled on the respective players’ Facebook pages in advance of a worldwide TV campaign. (Image: PokerStars.com)

Say “Cristiano Ronaldo” and “Neymar Jr” to their multimillions of fans, and you will probably get an adoring response.

That’s what PokerStars, for whom both soccer superstars are now brand ambassadors, is counting on with two new video spots that have just been released on social media.

But whether the approach will actually get new poker players to sign up remains to be seen.

PokerStars’ new marketing strategy came into full force over the weekend after the operator published the two new commercials online. Designed to use Cristiano Ronaldo‘s and Neymar Jr‘s online presence to the fullest, the latest ad campaigns were released on Facebook two weeks before they are due to go live on TV.

Deciding to put the spots online before they’re aired on TV is not only a new angle for PokerStars, but a sign of the times. With more people now engaging with brands, not to mention celebrities, on the Internet, companies such as PokerStars now see the medium as the most effective way to engage with the younger generation.

A 157 Million-Strong Social Network

Between Ronaldo and Neymar, PokerStars now has access to 157 million Facebook followers, so it comes as little surprise that the online operator would want to put its latest promotional content in front of these fans first.

Commenting on the new strategy, Michael Hazel, interim CEO at the Rational Group, said such a move was a great opportunity to connect with new customers and bring more new faces into the game.

“This is the biggest PokerStars marketing campaign in history and we are excited to launch with exclusive distribution on Facebook. The vast numbers of fans who engage with both stars make Facebook a great platform to reach a big audience,” said Hazel.

As well as benefitting from a huge network of interested followers, the decision to publish the commercials on Facebook will also allow PokerStars to use a range of data tracking tools to help identify key demographics.

Verdict on Spots: Unclear

As for the ads themselves, the aim, according to PokerStars, was to show off each player’s unique experience of the game. Despite being two of the leading soccer players in the world, at least one of the PokerStars ads has decided to focus on anything else but what these two greats are best-known for: sports.

Although the Neymar Jr commercial features some shots of a soccer game and a cameo from ex-Brazil striker Ronaldo, the overall theme seems to be on home games, social interaction, and pizza.

Pizza? Yep, the Ronaldo spot gives about as much airtime to the delivery guy and his motorbike ride as it does to the poker game.

While this strategy should work well in terms of portraying poker as a fun game for everyone, the Cristiano Ronaldo spot, at least, minimizes the aspirational aspect of being a global superhero with all the trappings. Neymar’s is a bit more what you might expect: a Rolls Royce, a rap theme, and several tatted-up hot babes scooping pots as plenty of bromanship ensues all around them.

In fact, bromanship could well be the overall theme of both of these spots. So much male fist clasping and hugs go on in each, women seem almost superfluous to the experience.

Perhaps being recognizable faces to millions of sports fans across the world will be enough to make the case for Ronaldo and Neymar’s connection to poker with no further explanation, but no specific mention is made in either spot of their mutual brand ambassador status.

The length of each commercial is also interesting. Running at more than two minutes each, the videos will clearly have to be shortened if they are to comply with typical TV standards, not to mention unless PokerStars wants to spend a star athlete’s salary on airtime.

Regardless of these choices, the overall reaction to the commercials seems to be positive, with Ronaldo’s video already receiving more than 115,000 likes and 5,300 comments.

To judge them for yourself, check out the videos below.

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