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This Could Get Messi: WeChat Hires World’s Best Footballer as TV Ad Star

messi wechat star

Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, so if you can get the world’s best player to be the star of your TV ads, then the marketing impact would definitely be immense. That is exactly what China-made messaging app WeChat has done, today recruiting three-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi 1 as its new global ad star.

The TV ads (embedded below) staring Messi are rolling out today. There are four of them so far, with Father’s Day 2 being the central theme in which the Argentine star uses WeChat’s video call feature to entertain a crying baby. How? By showing off his football juggling prowess, of course.

The most popular ad online is the Spanish version one, garnering over 130,000 views on YouTube at the time of writing, while the English and Indonesian versions haven’t been noticed yet. Messi’s incredible popularity in Spain’s FC Barcelona certainly helps with that.

Global kick-off

wechat messi billboard

Lionel Messi’s WeChat billboard spotted in Hong Kong this evening.
Credit: Engadget’s Richard Lai

WeChat definitely splashed out a huge sum of money to bring Messi in, but in return the messaging app can look forward to acquiring some football fans worldwide as new users. Everybody who watches football knows who Messi is, and that should help Tencent’s (HKG:0700) WeChat with its global ambitions – especially in Latin America where Messi grew up, and across Europe where Barcelona reigns supreme.

WeChat definitely picked an interesting time with the Messi tie-up, as it is just after the end of the Confederations Cup and at the start of the long, drawn-out anticipation for next year’s World Cup in Brazil.

Last month WeChat announced that it had 50 million users outside China, with the rest of its over 300 million users located inside its home country. It’ll be interesting to see how big of a boost will come from this footballing endorsement

So far, rival social messaging apps like Line and KakaoTalk have opted to use Korean K-pop celebrities as their ad stars. It is definitely a sound strategy if they’re looking to attract new users in Asia. But WeChat seems to be thinking globally, as Lionel Messi is definitely a name that stands out around the world.


  1. Surprised not to hear this news first from Lionel Messi’s official Tencent Weibo account.

  2. Weird, as Father’s Day is on June 16th.


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