BYJU’s gets Lionel Messi as endorser amid layoffs; triggers mixed reactions

BYJU's Lionel Messi

BYJU’s lands itself into ‘Messi’ waters. Its recent decision to onboard popular football player Lionel Messi as its brand ambassador did not sit well with netizens and brand experts. 

Home-grown EdTech company BYJU’s announced on Friday, popular football player Lionel Messi as its brand ambassador of social impact arm, Education for All. This development has triggered mixed reactions on social media as it comes after the company recently laid off at least 2,500 employees to control costs and accelerate its road towards profitability. 

BYJU’s also received flak from brand experts. 

“First Cricket Team/BCCI sponsorship. Now Lionel Messi. What’s the connect with Education?! Lionel Messi, 35, is a has been and not really young & happening. What’s the connect with BYJUs primary customer TG?! Importantly, what message and brand imagery gets cued when the brand indulges in multi-million dollar Blings (or is it flings!) on one hand and 1000s of employees getting firings on the other,” wrote brand management and corporate communications expert Sanjeev Shukla on LinkedIn. 

Sharing the thought behind onboarding Messi as its endorser, Divya Gokulnath, Co-founder of BYJU’S, wrote in a press statement, “We are honoured and excited to collaborate with Lionel Messi as our global ambassador. He is a once-in-a-generation talent whose pursuit of excellence, all-in mentality, humility, and reliability resonate deeply with BYJU’S brand values. He rose from the grassroots to become one of the most successful sportspersons ever. That is the kind of opportunity that BYJU’S Education For All wants to create for the nearly 5.5 million children it currently empowers. No one represents the power of enhancing human potential more than Lionel Messi. It is not really surprising that the greatest player of all time is also the greatest learner of all time. I am sure this partnership will inspire millions of people around the world to dream bigger and learn better. As football fans know, with Messi on your side anything is possible.”

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While the platform hasn’t revealed how much it spent to bring Messi onboard, he is the second richest football player in the world and takes home at least $100 million in earnings in a year. As per Nielsen, Messi, who is followed by 358.7 million, averages $2.6 million of media value per post. 

BYJU’s is known for loosening its pursestrings when it comes to marketing. In the past, the brand had appointed Shahrukh Khan as its endorser and has been a sponsor in the Indian Premier League. BYJU’s also extended its contract with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) earlier this year for a reported $55 million. 

Social Samosa reached out to BYJU’s for a comment but hasn’t heard from the company at the time of filing this report.