Seven is usually considered a lucky number in China, but the men’s clothing company of the same name may be wishing it had put more thought into the advertising campaign it has launched in Guangdong province with Portuguese football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo plays with a seven on his back for Juventus and it seemed a natural fit for Seven Brand as it looked for a new product spokesman. The problem is, the word has some unfortunate meanings in Cantonese: for some it is slang for “stupid”, and for others “penis”.
Online posts have mostly mocked the campaign, with its Weibo hashtag #Legendary 7, though the adverts have got the attention of consumers. One netizen commented: “Guangdong people would not buy clothes from Seven Brand. But because of C Ronaldo, I will buy some underwear.”
Seven Brand has been one of the top 10 men’s brands in China for the past 16 years. Set up in 1979, the company had net assets of 1.83 billion yuan (US$272,6 million) in 2018 and has 5,000 staff at its 3,500 outlets. The signing ceremony with Ronaldo will be held in Turin, Italy in two weeks.
Kung fu star Jet Li and former Portuguese football captain Luis Figo were previously used as Seven Brand spokesmen.
It is not the first company to attract controversy with the number: three years ago Apple copped some unwanted publicity for its slogan “This is 7”, which inspired many Photoshop pictures of the male sex organ.