Contract with Lionel Messi will remain unchanged: Tata Motors

Tata Motors’ response comes as Lionel Messi announces retirement from international football after Argentina’s Copa America loss


Since its launch in April, the Tiago has been averaging 3,000-plus units a month. Photo: Reuters
Since its launch in April, the Tiago has been averaging 3,000-plus units a month. Photo: Reuters

Mumbai: Tata Motors Ltd’s terms of contract with Lionel Messi, the global brand ambassador for Tata branded passenger vehicles will remain unchanged, the company’s spokesperson said in response to whether the company will revisit the terms of contract with the soccer star in the wake of the later retiring from international football.

The soccer star announced his retirement after missing in a penalty shootout as Argentina lost a fourth major final in nine years. “It’s not meant for me. For me the national team is over. I’ve done all I can, it hurts not to be a champion,” the 29-year-old forward said after defeat by Chile at the Copa America.

In a first for the company, Tata Motors announced appointment of Messi as its brand ambassador on 25 May as a run up to the introduction of the Tiago, its first all new hatchback after a hiatus of nine years. It engaged Messi in an effort to rebuild the image of its passenger cars. The idea behind engaging Messi is to “break from the clutter”, Mayank Pareek, president of the passenger vehicle business unit at Tata Motors had said in the statement. “The connect with Messi who personifies excellence and self-belief will be immediate and the effect a multiplier one,” he said. It’s the first time that Messi is endorsing an Indian brand.

Since its launch in April, the Tiago has been averaging 3,000-plus units a month. “The association with Messi has really helped the brand. We have seen the footfall in the showrooms go up sharply,” said a Tata Motors official declining to be identified. He refused to comment on whether the company will alter the terms of negotiation with Messi. “It’s too early to say anything,” he said.

According to the ESP Properties-SportzPower report released this year, the biggest endorsement deal of 2015 was delivered by Tata Motors, which signed Messi as its first brand ambassador at Rs.60 crore per year. To put things in perspective, the overall pie for sports endorsement deals was pegged at Rs.416.40 crore. Of this, cricket accounted for Rs.264.4 crore, while endorsements with international athletes stood at Rs.110 crore. Other sports raked in Rs.42 crore in endorsements.

Meanwhile, experts too maintained that the current development is unlikely to have an impact on the brands Messi endorses. “Messi’s retirement from international football will not have any impact on his endorsements neither will it have any impact on his brand value,” said Indranil Das Blah, chief operating officer at Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions.

“As a football player, one you end up playing club football for nine months of the year. In comparison, you probably spend only one month playing international football for your country. Messi is playing in the Champions’ League, and he plays for Barcelona, one of the most successful football clubs, so this decision will not impact any of his associations,” said Blah. He went on to explain that football was not like cricket, where retirement from international play, meant substantial erosion of brand value for the star. “If you were a cricketer and retired from international cricket that would have a massive impact on your brand value. For example, when Sachin Tendulkar retired from all forms of cricket it did have an impact on his brand value as well as his endorsements,” he said.

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