You would be hard pressed to find an immediate similarity between these two, but China’s fastest growing mobile messaging app has teamed up with the world’s favourite football player in a latest marketing gambit for mobile domination. Starring in a four-part series TV advertisement, Messi’s transglobal appeal is said to be key in replicating WeChat’s success across cultural borders.
Due in large part to its convergent nature, WeChat’s seamless integration of text and video messaging services within a larger social networking framework has been its strongest selling point, and it is this hybridity that has seen an onslaught of over 300 million active users within China alone. Such numbers are the envy of any mobile social app, but where WeChat distinguishes itself from rivals like Line and KakaoTalk is in its constant campaign for global attractiveness. As of last month it became the first Chinese social networking app to amass over 50 million international users.
And this is only set to increase with the acquirement of a three-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner as the face of your brand. Messi’s endorsement grants WeChat a significant global advantage for its services, and is itself a huge win for Tencent’s global ambitions. His sizeable fan following across Latin America and Europe, along with global recognition as one of football’s best and brightest, unlocks a segment in the market now inexorably closer in reach.
Competitors like Line opt for Asian celebrity representatives, and while this has been a sound strategy in boosting active users across Asia, such endorsements have not yet yielded the same results across an international scale. WeChat’s hope is that a vigorous campaign with Messi at the helm translates into increased worldwide user participation, hopefully drawing in more football fans in the process.
If the ads are anything to go by, then expect to see much more of Messi as he whips a foot ball to and fro across WeChat’s multiple messaging services: Voice. Text. Video. Apparently you need all three to calm a baby down.