The five-time winner of the Golden Ball has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for tax fraud. The judgment not only hurt Leo Messi, but also his club, FC Barcelona, and his sponsors to suffer the consequences of the scandal.
The player left without declaring to the Ministry of Finance the figure of 4.1 million euros. The forward’s personal mark, that was valued at nearly 10 million in 2014, will be degraded by the indignation of the consumers. Leo Messi was prescriptor of numerous brands. Adidas, Huawei, Pepsi and Gillette are some of the many firms that relied on the player’s image for their ad campaigns. The verdict could affect the brand value of the sponsors whose image is associated with the player of the Catalan football team.
The Drum contacted some of the sponsors of Leo Messi, in order to know their attitude and how they plan the future. According to reports, Adidas will continue to rely on the forward as a brand ambassador, while other advertisers prefer to omit theirs statements thereon. The outrage is such that many ask football clubs to prohibit Leo Messi playing during the duration of the sentence. Ignoring the bias that will surely inspire many of the comments, the fact is that the player has proven lack as a person the integrity which he has as a player. Just wait for the final conclusion of the case to see if he will continue to consolidate his career as elite football player.
Advertisers hire celebrities for their campaigns because that enjoy greater credibility among consumers and also get arouse more sympathy among the public. Improving the perception of the brand among audiences means more purchases of the product or service advertised. However when the famous has a personal slip, his image as an advertising prescriptor is damaged and the brands that he publicizes also suffer the consequences of his lack of credibility.
Author and journalist Clemente Ferrer has led a distinguished career in Spain in the fields of advertising and public relations. He is currently President of the European Institute of Marketing.