England star Rio to build 'brand'

England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has brought in sports agency Pitch PR to build his profile outside of football.

Pitch creative director Andrew Ager said management agency NVA Entertainment Group had briefed the agency to build ‘the Rio Ferdinand brand’ beyond the sports pages.

Ferdinand – who was banned for eight months during 2004 for missing a drugs test and came under fire for waiting 85 days before signing a multi-million-pound wage deal with Man Utd – is co-owner of a TV production company and record label.

‘Rio is a high-profile sportsman at the top of his game, so we’ll be using that reputation to raise the profile of his off-field activities,’ said Ager. The agency’s first task is to launch TV programme Rio’s World Cup Wind Ups – a prank show presented and co-produced by Ferdinand, in which he sets up England stars such as Wayne Rooney.

The seven-episode programme will screen on ITV1 during the World Cup, with promotional coverage in
national press planned for this weekend.

The Observer’s sports section has in the past ridiculed the Londoner’s brand-building exploits.

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