27 July 2023 |

The Messi Effect

By Daniel Murray

Tight budgets, close deadlines, and tons of stress, Marketing can get Messi.  But every so often there are campaigns and Marketers alike that absolutely CRUSH, seemingly pushing all the Messiness away for the time being. 

And today’s lesson is a prime example of a brand partnership, turned into a campaign, that has absolutely altered the trajectory for not 1 company, but 3. 

Marketing student, I present to you The Messi Effect
There are an estimated 3.5B soccer fans around the globe, 200+ professional men’s leagues, and the two largest soccer leagues in the world, the Premier League and La Liga, rake in millions of viewers per match. 

There is no shortage of competition. The US is the largest consumer market in the world and soccer is the most popular sport in the world, yet the largest soccer league in the States (the MLS) has had trouble gaining mass popularity, averaging a measly 309,000 viewers per match. 

But something happened last month that could change this ALLLLL.
Long been looked at as the “little brother” to the Premier League and La Liga, the MLS is the go-to league for big-name European soccer players nearing the end of their career. This has prevented the MLS from being able to solidify their product as being at par with the Premier League and La Liga.  

That was, until Leo Messi signed a groundbreaking deal with Inter Miami, Apple TV, and Adidas to come over to the states and play in the MLS. 

The 35-year-old, world cup winning GOAT of soccer chose to play here in the United States over Saudi Arabia and the impact this decision has had on the MLS is already profound.
You’ve heard me say it probably 1,000 times, people want to follow people, not companies. And thanks to Messi I can show you proof of this in 4K. 

Before Messi inked a deal with the MLS, Inter Miami (the team he will play for) had just over 1M IG followers. Now sitting here typing this on July 18th, Inter Miami has 10M IG followers. In 5 weeks since the Messi deal, Inter Miami’s IG following increased by 10x (INSANE). 

Now I know what you’re thinking, Inter Miami is a company, you’re right. But the lesson here is in the influence Messi had and the eyeballs he has drawn to the brand, you can only get that through creators.
Social media metrics are cool, yes, but $$ is cooler and Messi is piling up cash for Inter Miami, Adidas, and Apple TV. Adidas is expected to sell 2M Messi jerseys this year at an average price of $150 (quick math: $300M in revenue).

MLS clubs keep 15% of the merchandise revenue, meaning Inter Miami is expected to earn $45M in jersey revenue. The boost from jersey sales alone is 2x their current total revenue for the 2022 season. 

It doesn’t stop there… Inter Miami is in last place in the entire league and 25th out of 29 teams in average attendance, but after the Messi signing all tickets for Inter Miami’s last 12 games where Messi COULD play, have sold out.
Absolutely bonkers, Messi has such a high-quality connection with his community it is ushering in a new era for 3 separate brands at once. Now imagine if your business empowered its employees to showcase their personality online. I’m not saying you’ll reach Messi’s 500M followers, but if Gary from creative builds a following of 2,000 on LinkedIn who knows what kind of pipeline he may generate. 

Anyways, back to the GOAT.  How are Inter Miami, Adidas, and Apple TV positioning themselves after this initial buzz? As a business, your unique selling point (USP) is what separates you from the pack.

Sometimes it’s the sole difference between a customer choosing you vs your competitor.
Which is why I cannot stress enough that leaning into your USP is one of the best decisions you can make as a Marketer. In this case, there is only one Leo Messi, there is only one GOAT soccer player, and he is only on one team. 

Leo Messi onlys plays for Inter Miami, is signed solely to Adidas, and can only be watched on Apple TV, hence why each brand is centering their campaigns around the 🐐

Inter Miami’s IG bio ✅.
MLS TikTok bio ✅.
Apple TV out of home ad ✅.
Adidas’ home page ✅.
Messi’s personal brand was a big lever is his deal with the MLS and will prove to be an asset to the MLS, Inter Miami, Adidas, and Apple TV down the road. 

Now if you don’t mind me, I’m going to go buy myself a new Messi jersey lol (mine is very old).