Argentina players celebrate a goal against Indonesia. EFE-EPA/FILE/ADI WEDA

Chinese giants lock horns in a showdown for Argentina, Messi sponsorship

By Guillermo Benavides

Beijing, June 23 (EFE).- Chinese dairy giants Yili and Mengniu are engaged in an intense battle to sponsor Argentina’s football team and its iconic captain, Lionel Messi, in a bid to increase visibility by capturing the eyeballs of millions of their fans.

The two companies have launched unprecedented advertising campaigns to sponsor La Albiceleste and its captain.

The showdown between Yili and Mengniu has reached its zenith, with clever strategies and multimillion-dollar investments targeting Chinese fans of Argentina and the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Yili took advantage of the friendly match between Argentina and Australia on June 15 in Beijing to renew its commercial agreement with La Albiceleste.

It also set up an interactive booth outside the stadium during the event.

The company carried out multiple promotional campaigns using images of Argentine players, including Messi, offering prizes and gifts related to the national team on online platforms like Weibo – China’s equivalent of Twitter – and

Mengniu responded with promotional posters suggesting that Messi was their official ambassador.

Although there have been no legal conflicts regarding the promotion of Messi between Yili and Mengniu, the two companies already have a history of locking horns for sponsorship of sporting events like the Olympic Games and the AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

The 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing also sparked a battle between the two.

Yili signed an exclusive sponsorship agreement with the Olympic Committee for the event, and publicly denounced its rival for trying to mislead the public by making “them believe that Mengniu is an Olympic sponsor of dairy products.”

Nevertheless, Mengniu capitalized on the success of national athletes in the competition by launching promotional posters replacing the image of the medalists with cartoon characters.

The companies are giants in China’s dairy industry but Yili has a stronger position in terms of revenue and market value.

In 2022, Yili’s operating income reached 123.171 billion yuan (more than $17 billion), an 11.4 percent increase compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile, Mengniu’s operating income was 92.5 billion yuan (nearly $13 billion).

As for gross profit, in 2022, Yili reached 10.63 billion yuan ($1.4 billion), a 5.14 percent year-on-year increase, whereas Mengniu earned 17.459 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) in profit, albeit with a slight 0.5 percent decrease compared to 2021.

Both companies are listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange but while Yili has a market value of HK$184.95 billion ($25.7 billion), Mengniu stands at HK$119.31 billion ($15.2 billion).

Although the two have not disclosed specific marketing expenses, various reports indicate that Mengniu’s investment for the previous World Cup reached $60 million, while Yili’s marketing expenses amounted to $139 million. EFE