High awareness figures and annual endorsement earnings have contributed to awarding the Real Madrid player with this label.
The result is according to Repucom’s Celebrity DBI tool which tests players in 15 markets against public awareness, appeal, aspiration, breakthrough, endorsement, influence, trendsetting and trust attributes to generate an overall ‘DBI Score’ calculating marketability.
Ronaldo was awarded a score of 84.1 with Barcelona’s Messi reaching 82.4, partly due to stats that say 92% of people know of Ronaldo while 87% have heard of Messi.
Only two markets, Messi’s native Argentina and China, have a higher percentage of people who know of Messi over Ronaldo. However, more people who know of Messi say they also like him and aspire to be like him.
Online engagement has also boosted Ronaldo’s score, with more Facebook followers (102 million) and an average post value of $143,750 in 2014, compared to Messi’s 75 million followers and average post value of $62,500.
Likely due to this high level of online interaction, 94% of 18-24 year olds know of Ronaldo while 93% know of Messi.
Ronaldo’s sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike, Emirates, Tag Heuer and Samsung also bring his annual endorsement earnings in at around $22.5m, with Messi generating around $21.25m through involvement with Adidas, Turkish Airlines, FIFA, Pepsi, Dolce & Gabbana, Gillette and Samsung.
The annual FIFA Ballon d’Or award is given to the male player with the best performance in the previous year based on votes from coaches, international team captains and journalists. While Messi is a four-time winner, current titleholder Ronaldo has won twice.