The Messi Effect
You don’t need to be a football fan to have heard that one of the world’s greatest players – Lionel Messi – signed to Inter Miami, a team in the American Major League Soccer (MLS).
Sports are embedded into American culture, and whilst soccer (yes, I did just type soccer!) is the most enjoyed game all over the world, it’s only just starting to gain popularity in the US (currently ranked 5th behind ice hockey).
So, how did Inter Miami (who were bottom of the Eastern Conference) manage to bag Messi over any other club – on a free transfer – and despite a Saudi Arabian mega-deal?
Well, these will have certainly played their part …
1). The Vision and the Promise
Back in 2007, David Beckham signed for LA Galaxy, with a clause in his contract allowing him to buy an MLS expansion team for $25 million – this becoming Inter Miami. When his club signed Messi in July, he commented:
“Ten years ago, when I started my journey to build a new team in Miami, I said that I dreamt of bringing the greatest players in the world to this amazing city…Players who shared the ambition I had when I joined LA Galaxy to help grow football in the USA and to build a legacy for the next generation in this sport that we love so much…”
Rather than competing alone, the club partnered with Apple, Adidas, and Fanatics. This meant Messi would receive revenue share from MLS season pass on Apple TV and a new TV series about Argentina’s World Cup win, profit share of Adidas’s sales of US MLS gear, and a percentage of Miami’s shirt sales from Fanatics.
As well as the above, Messi will also receive an ownership stake in the club, similar to an MLS deal inked with Beckham in 2007.
It wasn’t a deal that took a few weeks, it was a long-term Vision for Beckham, a conversation that Beckham had had ten years ago with his co-owner, allegedly followed by years of secret meetings with Messi.
All well and good, Martin, but what does this mean for me?!
Well, this is a big lesson in Partnerships, and to think about how these can work in your business (new or existing):
- What is your Vision? Who else out there can help be a part of this, to help you achieve it?
- What value can your people and potential partners bring? Inter Miami saw past Messi as simply playing great football – they knew he would fill seats, sell merchandise, drive views of media content. How can you help with their customer acquisition?
- Don’t be limited by your industry – there maybe common partners outside. Apple aren’t synonymous with sports contracts, but their MLS season pass has great synergy with Miami.
- Is there an “ecosystem” model where you bring various partners on board from different industry’s that can all share in the success?
Mrs N and I were lucky enough to see Messi play when we were recently in New York and have never seen fandom like it – tickets that usually sold for $20 were going for $10,000, most the stadium was full of Messi shirts and constant chants of his name, and when he appeared to warm-up no one was even watching the soccer (sorry, football!) match.
So, paying off already…! No wonder he was happy to wave at us!