By Barry Janoff
November 8, 2012: Lionel Messi is regarded as the best international soccer player in the world. Now, thanks to Head & Shoulders, he has an opportunity to display his heading skills for domestic consumers and fans.
The hair-care division of Procter & Gamble said that Messi would appear in a marketing campaign to promote its Refresh for Men line targeting Hispanic men in the U.S. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Messi, who has been appearing in Head & Shoulder ads in Latin America since July, joins a U.S. roster of spokesmen that includes Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers), Joe Mauer (Minnesota Twins) and Olympic medal record holder Michael Phelps.
According to Head & Shoulders, the 25-year-old Messi has been a consumer of the brand for years, adding that his "charisma, talent and confidence on the field were a natural fit . . . as the brand continues to connect with fans via their passion for sports and seeks to speak to the ever-growing Hispanic market."
Head & Shoulders said that the three-time FIFA world player of the year, who plays for La Liga FC Barcelona and is captain of the Argentina national team, would star in ads on TV, Internet and social media, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Lead agency is Dieste, Dallas.
Messi earns almost $20 million annually from endorsements, according to industry analysts, including deals with adidas, PepsiCo, EA Sports and Herbalife.
In an initial spot, Messi is seen in action on the pitch, ultimately scoring a game-winning goal. (Ironically, there are no shots of him using his head.)
A voiceover offers in Spanish, "Messi believes that to play good football, it is important to keep a cool head and have clean hair in order to have better confidence. Lionel Messi keeps his head cool and his hair free from dandruff with Refresh for Men."
He then heads to the locker room, where he gives a young fan an autograph. In what appears to be a nod to the classic Coca-Cola commercial where "Mean" Joe Green gives a boy his jersey (later re-created in a humorous spot starring Polamalu), Messi hands the kid his scarf. (See the full spot here.)
"The fact that Leo is a fan of Head & Shoulders, and now our ambassador, gives us a tremendous opportunity to be able to create a personal connection with our Hispanic male consumers,” Michael Saabia, Head & Shoulders brand manager, said a statement.