Argentina and Barcelona soccer great Lionel Messi has signed an endorsement deal with the Mengniu Group.
Under the terms of the agreement, the five-time Ballons d'Or winner will serve as a brand ambassador for the Chinese dairy products manufacturer, adding to his partnerships with Huawei, Gatorade and a life-long deal with Adidas.
Mengniu agreed a deal in December to become an official sponsor of the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia, when it will serve as the official drinkable yoghurt and pre-packaged ice cream of the national team tournament, and will also be listed as the competition’s official milk and powdered milk.
27 of the company’s products will have the right to conduct marketing campaigns related to the World Cup, and Mengniu has announced that it intends to spend RMB2 billion (US$300 million) on marketing campaigns centring on the event.
According to the Red Card 2018: China Digital Football Awards study by sports consultancy Mailman, which analyses European soccer’s digital performance in China, Messi has overtaken Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo to become the most influential player online in the country. After relaunching his Chinese social media channels in May last year, Messi accumulated over one million new followers in 2017.
Messi claimed two goals on Saturday when Barcelona thrashed Girona 6-1, extending his lead as top goal-scorer in La Liga this season to two ahead of teammate Luis Suárez. Messi will be hoping to guide Argentina to glory this summer when he makes his fourth World Cup appearance in Russia.