Ronaldo to sue China's Guangxi Golden Throat Group

Updated: 2007-01-26 09:25

Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo is suing a Chinese drug maker for a TV commercial advertisement produced without his nod.

In the ad about a lozenge produced by Guangxi Golden Throat Group, Ronaldo giggles while showing the product to the audience. It was showed on TV, including CCTV, from September 2003, after his visit to China with Real Madrid.

Brazilian soccer player Ronaldo in a special suit with the Chinese characters "Golden Throat Lozenge" in a primetime advertisement played on all local television stations, as well as China Central Television. []

The newspaper, Youth Weekend reports, the ad sparked criticism from the audience, who doubted if it was Ronaldo himself. Thanks to the ad, the famous striker was put on the list of top 10 most unpopular spokespeople in a commercial ad.

Ronaldo has complained his image was illegally used for the ad, which was produced without a contract. Two Chinese lawyers have been employed to collect evidence and the proceeding will start next month, possibly at a news conference in Beijing.

However, the Chinese drug maker insisted that there was no breaking of the law in the production of the ad.

The true story of the ad: Once Upon a Meal

The image of Ronaldo in the ad could be traced back to a meal, according to Wang Lei, a newspaper reporter and an acquaintance of the star's representative.

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The star was invited to dinner by the drug maker during his stay in Beijing in 2003 with Real Madrid players. The image came from photos shot during the meal, for which the the drug maker side paid the striker 300 thousand US dollars.

Nothing has been said, however, about the real purpose of shooting the photos.

Harm has been done: The loss of valuable endorsement contracts

Ronaldo decided to go to court when another Chinese drug maker wanted a deal with him with a precondition: he must terminate the contract with Guangxi Golden Throat Group.

He did not realize until then that he missed as many as seven chances to sign contracts with Chinese enterprises because of the "Golden Throat" ad. Each contract could have fetched him 3.2 million euros a year.

Misuse of a famous image: Four facts make a bad, bad ad

Four facts about the ad make it impossible for it to be one produced under contract by Ronaldo, said his representative to news reporter Wang Lei.

1. There is no sign of "Golden Throat" on the official website of the soccer star, which should be a term of the contract if it had ever existed.

2. The design of the ad was too awful for an international football star.

3. Except for the meal, Ronaldo hasn't shown up for any commercial activities of the enterprise, which is illogical under a contract.

4. The image of the famous star in the ad was clearly without makeup. Usually he would spend at least one hour dressing up before shooting an ad.

The other side of the story: No Response from "Golden Throat"

News reporters failed to contact people responsible on the "Golden Throat" side, while Ronaldo's image is still on the front page of the drug maker's website.

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