Neymar Jr and Ronaldo Nazario may both be Brazilian football legends, but that’s not the only thing they have in common. Ever since the poker-loving stars teamed up in promoting mega poker brand PokerStars in 2015, the two have been at the centre of numerous unconventional and creative promotional campaigns.
The latest campaign has as much to do with football as with poker, combining the players’ two passions in an inclusive project designed to engage their fans. In a series of videos posted on their social media feeds, followers can see the two stars challenging each other to increasingly difficult football tricks. First, Neymar Jr makes an impressive shot into the back of an open car boot. Ronaldo follows up in a separate video which shows him kicking a ball into a moving convertible car.
A different video depicts Neymar Jr kicking a ball straight into flying drone - and obliterating it in the process. Responding to Neymar’s challenge, Ronaldo joins the battle by smashing his own drone - not with a football this time, but with an incredible golf shot. More humorous yet, the two ditch traditional sports and turn to food battles in their next videos. Ronaldo throws a tea bag over his shoulder which lands straight into his #RaiseIt mug, whilst Neymar Jr shares a video in which he succeeds in throwing an egg over his shoulder and straight into a frying pan.
Since the viral videos kicked off the campaign, the footballers have continued their playful show of one-upmanship against each other, encouraging fans to show off their own stunts under the #RaiseIt hashtag. Other big names in sports have joined in on the fun, with ping pong and tennis tricks even trending under #RaiseIt. Delighted fans are seeing their own videos retweeted and shared by Neymar Jr and Ronaldo.
How exactly does this promote poker? Simon Tilsbury, the PokerStars marketer behind the campaign, claims that the #RaiseIt project allows anyone to “up the stakes by outsmarting a friend, a hero, or even a stranger. Poker skills transcend to many areas of life as reaching any personal goal takes patience, focus, determination and courage. We're used to seeing poker players #raiseit on the felt, but the essence can be applied to any scenario or talent."
The connection might not seem particularly convincing, but people are at least having fun with it - Ronaldo and Neymar Jr included. The competitiveness, risk-taking and thrill-seeking nature that comes with responding to a dare can certainly be felt both on the football field and at the poker table. Last year, the two football legends starred in an equally successful PokerStars campaign which saw each of them at the centre of their own stylish promo vid, designed to show what poker meant for them on a personal level.
The #RaiseIt trend doesn’t look like it’s going to die down anytime soon, but PokerStars are probably already thinking about how to make the next campaign even bigger and better, proving how invested they are in maintaining their reputation as one of the most popular online poker rooms. Matching the hilarity and widespread appeal of the #RaiseIt project won't be easy, though.