“Lionel Messi is a global brand par excellence”

He is one of the greatest soccer players in history. The six-time Golden Ball, Argentinian Lionel Messi, is also a very profitable brand. The “Pulga” (the “chip”) has established itself over the years as a safe bet for advertisers, explains Magali Tézenas Du Montcel, Managing Director of Sporsora, an organization specializing in sports marketing strategies.

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When we talk about Lionel Messi, the phrase “it brings in more than it costs” often comes up …

It is never easy to measure the return on investment of such a player. There are tangible aspects, others less directly quantifiable – its effects on the image of the team or the city for example. Football clubs derive their income from sponsorship, merchandising, ticketing, television rights and player transfers. For the first four variables, we can expect positive results: Messi is a global brand par excellence.

First, it appeals to advertisers. He already has a dozen personal sponsors [le chinois Huawei, le qatari Ooredoo ou encore l’américain Pepsi Cola, entre autres]. Its presence is a strong argument for attracting new contracts or renegotiating the amounts of pre-existing ones. Messi is also one of the players whose jersey is the most bought in the world. Its impact on the sale of derivative products will therefore be quite automatic.

In terms of ticketing, the Parc des Princes is already often full and, if the price of tickets could have been increased, the context of the crisis makes this option unlikely. On the other hand, the VIP ticket office may experience a significant increase.

Finally, there is the issue of TV rights. The situation is already so complicated in France that it is hard to imagine a direct impact. On the other hand, internationally, the rights of Ligue 1 are very low and the arrival of Messi will have a positive effect in the renegotiations.

Is the phenomenon of athletes becoming “brands” recent?

Social networks have allowed them to become full-fledged media and brands. Before, athletes shone through their club, now they can do it individually and reach a global audience.

The new generations are more attached to individuals than to institutions. It is these individualities that make it possible to attract younger and different targets. Nielsen law firm published in 2020 a study on the sportsmen with the strongest marketing impact on social networks: Messi was at the top of the ranking. He has over 100 million followers on Facebook, 245 million on Instagram. It’s colossal!

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