Ronaldo, the former Brazilian football superstar turned adman, is to begin working closely with Sir Martin Sorrell within the coming months, taking a job placement alongside the chief executive of WPP, the world’s largest advertising group by revenues.
The 36-year-old, whose full name is Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, is moving to London to study, according to Brazilian press reports, having for the past two years run ad agency 9ine, a collaboration between WPP and the former footballer.
Sir Martin declined to comment on the nature of the placement but said he had already been working closely with Ronaldo in Latin America and on the World Cup and the Olympics, which will be hosted by Brazil in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
“Ronaldo had already had great success with clients Claro [and] Duracell. He’ll be coming to the UK [to] work with us closely there,” he said.
In an interview with Brazilian newspaper Meio e Mensagem, Ronaldo said: “Learning from Martin Sorrell will be perfect. I won’t leave him alone. I’ll be asking him questions the whole day, just like a striker. He’s going to have to tell me everything.”
The former Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter Milan striker is hoping to benefit from Sir Martin’s expertise.
Speaking to the Financial Times in 2011, Ronaldo said: “My biggest difficulty so far is with strategic planning, which is what marketing and advertising really consist of. It’s for that reason that I’ve been studying so much – not so much in classes, but with my team here.”
Voted Fifa’s best soccer player worldwide three times, Ronaldo said he was still keen to study.
“I feel a great need to become a student. I’ve learnt a lot – travelling, living abroad, just in the school of life,” he told Meio e Mensagem. “Eighteen years have passed and I’ve hardly studied. But I have to immerse myself in something.”
9ine, a broad-based marketing services company based in São Paulo, was set up with the aim of exploiting marketing opportunities around sports in Brazil. Ronaldo retired from football in 2011.
“I wasn’t just going to stop working, and I never wanted to be a coach or a manager,” he said at the time. “But I wanted to take advantage of my connection with football . . . After all these years I have very good relationships with many of the biggest companies and lots of athletes.”