These are the facts: 1. There are A LOT of people (read: potential buyers of Cristiano Ronaldo-brand stuff) in China. 2. Twitter is blocked in China because it’s China and that’s what China does. 3. Marketing to those potential buyers of Cristiano Ronaldo-brand stuff would be easier if there was a Twitter-like service not blocked by the Chinese government. Luckily for Cristiano Ronaldo and the people in charge of spreading his image so people buy more stuff, there is such a service.
Called Tencent weibo (weibo means microblog), the English version of the service went live last week. Someone signed up on behalf of Ronaldo, the better to spread the CR7 brand to the billions of Chinese people that might want to know what’s going on with their favorite European soccer star.
Thus far, Ronaldo’s account (we think it’s Ronaldo’s account – being sure is somewhat difficult for someone unfamiliar with Chinese characters, but it does have a star and a check that seem to be the Tencent equivalent of Twitter’s “verified”) has tweeted weibo’d photos and videos of the Real Madrid star and not much else while collecting nearly 300,000 followers. In fact, his first message is pure PR and nothing else, spat straight from the mouth of someone at a firm who looks after these sort of things for Ronaldo.
Also, there’s a photo of Ronaldo holding a stuffed version of Tencent’s logo, a penguin with a scarf. I suppose that makes the whole thing worth it.
Of course, the tone of the weibo account is no different than Ronaldo’s Twitter account, which is also so clearly run by someone carefully looking out for Ronaldo’s image that it totally defeats the purpose of using what is meant to be a supremely personal medium (see: Barton, Joey). You’d get the same thing out of an automated account that just tweeted links to Ronaldo-focused items based on a keyword.
Hooray for new markets, amiright?