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On August 5th, FC Barcelona ended months of speculation by officially announcing that Lionel Messi would not be returning to the club. The news stunned the sporting world, confirming the end of an era and the separation of a player and club whose names had become almost synonymous.


Potential suitors wasted no time in their recruiting efforts and, on August 10th, the six-time Ballon d’Or winning Argentinian signed with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), a juggernaut in the French Ligue 1. We dove into the data behind the saga to measure the earned, owned, and paid media impact of the events.

Sports are Increasingly Superstar Centric

The data exemplified an established trend across sports: Superstar athletes command a huge amount of attention, amassing major audiences and driving more interest and conversation than the teams and leagues to which they belong. Today’s landscape of player loyalty raises key reputation-related questions for team’s marketing and communication leadership:


  • To what degree does the attention athletes command represent a reputation threat or opportunity?
  • How can we tailor our marketing and communications strategies to leverage these athletes’ profiles to maximize brand awareness?
  • How do we prepare for and measure reputation threats related to the proliferation of athlete exposure?

PSG’s media efforts serve as a timely case study for how to maximize the media impact of such a monumental announcement. The team’s social media activity and paid media strategy, in the wake of the news, are a testament to the importance of an agile and rapid communications strategy.


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