Team Messi - winner of the International Sponsorship category sponsored by ESA

SPONSOR: adidas


AGENCY/Consultancy INVOLVED: iris Worldwide

“Team Messi” – a global fan movement founded by adidas to celebrate everything Messi.
Lionel Messi is a football sensation… and his story is as unique as his abilities… the shy gifted kid from Rosario who needed hormone injections to combat growth issues, moving to Barcelona with his family at a young age to pursue his dream… he breaks the mould of the elite professional footballer, playing more for his team than for himself, not flash, shallow or self-obsessed – and determined to play the game with purity and honesty, riding rash tackles and scoring or assisting with monotonous regularity.
Is Leo Messi the greatest footballer of all time? What does the enigmatic, Argentinian stand for, on & off the pitch? How do his fans get closer to him when the only talking he does, is with his feet?
These things combined with the fact that Leo has been an adidas asset for his entire professional career, he’s the single most important sports marketing asset they have – and yet attribution for the brand and Messi was low, led to the best brief ever.
Working with the brand team at Global HQ in Germany, the brief was to build brand equity for adidas by streamlining all of its activation of Leo Messi into a clearly positioned, premium, exciting and cutting edge platform – accessible by fans from any market in the world.
Specifically, the three year programme had to:
- Increase adidas / Messi attribution amongst the target up to 40% by the end of 2015
- Convert 10% of fans who currently “follow or like” Messi into the platform
- Drive world class consumer engagement
- Drive CRM acquisition
- Support key product launches with unique content and experiences
The target consumer is referred to by adidas as “next generation youth”. These are 14-19 year old digital natives, who expect their favourite brands to serve up interesting and entertaining stuff they can’t get elsewhere on a daily basis.
Execution & exploitation:
The icon status of Messi demanded the creation of something more akin to a movement than a fan club… and we were blessed with authentic truths in our favour… we were evidently committed to Leo, we shared so many of his values, we’d been there since the beginning & we had a unique angle… we were on the inside. The value exchange was clear – we could not only provide a platform for overt celebration of the man (which he himself could & would never do); but we could also promise to get fans closer than they could ever get before, in return for their precious time, attention and following.
We created “Team Messi” – a global fan movement founded by adidas to celebrate everything Messi. Building a global community of youth around Leo, getting his fans closer to their hero, and making a football icon into an adidas one.
From an international perspective, less sophisticated local markets always struggle with local budget to support global assets. For example, via Team Messi, markets like Indonesia, Russia and Korea are able to activate their legions of loyal fans, and deliver the engagement and proximity they’d usually miss out on.
Team Messi turned 30 years of sports marketing convention on its head. Rather than building an icon on towers of media money, we built on the passion of Leo's fans. We let them shape the tribute to their hero, integrating our campaign around them.
But most importantly of all, we were able to turn this passion into actual and measurable value for adidas, driving brand attribution and commercial sales. Team Messi blends award winning content and & experiences with industry leading social practice and creative innovation… the perfect blend of athlete, brand and fan.
Partly an always-on social media programme on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, & Vine, and partly a series of high-profile campaigns for product launches and key calendar Messi moments, it combines everything under one message - a celebration of the shared values that unite Leo and adidas: sporting excellence, team work and a genuine love for the beautiful game.
1 - 24/7 management of the community:
One of the secrets to our “always-on” success is our bi-lingual community manager, who we call our “Social Reporter”. He not only nurtures the growing social community 24/7, he also puts himself in close proximity to Leo at as many key moments as possible… whether that’s a crucial Champions League game in Barcelona, a Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich, or a tour of South America in the off-season. Working closely with Leo’s sports marketing manager at adidas for inside scoops, exclusive behind the scenes images or just approval in real-time – the Social Reporter is able to deliver premium content, exclusive rewards and the chance to get fans’ creations in Leo’s hands. See the examples of the on-going #VamosLeo campaign for a truly International activation.
2 - Product launch & key moment spikes:
Leo is a vital commercial asset for adidas… so our campaigns around product launches and other moments are key tools to assist in generating buzz, demand and sell-through. When Leo launches a new boot in his signature series, we deploy integrated tools including film, digital / mobile experiences, retail assets & advertising to maximise hype and traffic to our social ecosystem, .com, ecom and retail. In order to ensure our output is cutting edge and distinctive, we use things like creative technology to bring fresh (and inherently viral) content to Team Messi fans. The campaign around Leo’s 4th Ballon d’Or win, and the “Speed of Light” boot launch are great examples of this.
The images which accompany our entry are examples of activations across the year encompassing ATL, outdoor, online, social and community management via Facebook, Vine, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, mobile applications, experiential and PR.
To view the social epicentre of Team Messi, visit:
Outcome & evaluation:
Part of the retained Team Messi agency team is iris Concise, our in-house social analytics business, who produce a monthly performance dashboard to analyse customer engagement across our eight digital platforms. From this we can provide actionable insight to inform new campaigns and optimise in realtime (example attached).
We’ve already seen impressive results in the 12 months since launch:
- 22 years worth of YouTube views
- 483k twitter followers
- 1.8 million facebook likes
- 220k mobile app downloads
- Engagement levels on Team Messi social platforms higher than main adidas Football platforms (disproportionate to community size)
- 23k fans in CRM database, 60% of whom are new to adidas
- 9% click-through rate on email
- Team Messi consumers (in database) are worth an average of €10 more than those in the main adidas database – this is attributable to engagement levels across social platforms
- Average database sales conversion levels are higher than the football category norm
- Global revenue forecast for Messi icon products surpassed in year 1 by 17%, leading to the business unit building a case for apportioning 10% of 2015 revenue forecast into the Team Messi platform.
(Sources: Microstrategy, Neolane, Radian 6 & Social Bakers)
And crucially, we’re on-course to surpass our 3 year attribution objectives, with significant uplift in Spain, Korea, France, Italy, Brazil, Russia, Germany, UK, Japan, China and USA.
Please check the attached link for an example boot launch activation:

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