Op-Ed: How Samba Digital helped announce Messi's move to PSG

30 Sep 2021

By: Sport Industry Group

Samba Digital are an international sports marketing agency with household clients including Juventus, Formula One, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Orlando Magic, AS Monaco, Everton and PSG. They work with teams, rights holders and brands on their international digital strategies and sometimes that work includes being involved in some of the world's biggest football transfers...

Dan McLaren, Key Account Manager, at Samba Digital details the exciting project they executed this summer.


What have LaLiga’s El Clasico hype campaign, Everton’s signing of James Rodriguez, and Leo Messi’s arrival in Paris got in common? Aside from being hugely significant moments for the teams and leagues, they also went beyond their own borders and directly spoke to fans around the world. 

LaLiga recently picked up the International Creativity Award at the 2021 Sport Industry Awards in London. They were rewarded for their work in promoting last year’s El Clasico by rolling out the red carpet in seven iconic locations around the world, including the Sydney Opera House, Tower Bridge in London, and Place du Souvenir Africain in Dakar.  

Similar to how Everton’s announced the signing of Colombian superstar James Rodriguez, with visual statements made in Liverpool, New York, Miami and Bogota in Colombia, Samba Digital helped light up it’s tallest building in blue with the number 19, there for all to see.

But when it comes to major international signings, the summer of 2021 will go down in history as one of the biggest ever. At Samba we were fortunate to be a part of one of them, when 6-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi made the dramatic move from Barcelona to PSG. 

It was one of the most surreal weeks in recent memory, especially for those of us directly involved. To give you a little behind-the-scenes insight; the transfer reportedly came to light late on Thursday 5th August, and alongside our close work with PSG on their Spanish, English, and Portuguese social media accounts, there was much excitement when news spread. 

Over the next 48 hours ideas were floated and activations agreed upon, obviously reliant on all going smoothly in the meantime with the transfer. On the night of Sunday 8th, a Samba team of three flew from Spain to Paris to help supplement the PSG digital team in what was going to be the busiest week of their lives, as well as bringing the activation idea they had proposed to reality, one that would end up making headlines around the world.

The plan was for the famous streamer Ibai Llanos, one of the most well-known and followed Spanish-speaking streamers in the world, to fly to Paris and become the first person to speak to Messi ever on Twitch - live from the tunnel at the Parc des Princes. 

Why Ibai? Aside from being a huge streaming star, he is also friends with the likes of Sergio Aguero, and it was he who had invited him to Messi’s dinner party a couple of days before he moved to Paris.

For the club, this provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reach a new audience and provide a unique moment that would make people stand up and take notice. 

Along with his friends, Ander Cortés and Borja Nanclares, they recorded their visit to the city (their first ever vlog) from start to finish. Once in the stadium, they were assisted behind the camera by the Samba team. 

As he said afterwards, this was the most nervous he had ever been. And this is someone who has become a business partner of Gerard Pique and streamed live La Liga games on his channel. It was going to be a huge moment.

This simple idea turned into one of the most talked about moments of the summer. With Ibai getting more time with the superstar than many of the mainstream media outlets and creating headlines across the world.

For the Samba team to bring Ibai over to France and record this moment for Spanish fans, it was a unique and exciting moment that will never be forgotten. It also shows the shift in how clubs are engaging with fans outside of their own markets, with more emphasis on both localising content to really make them feel part of the club, closer to players, and also embrace the new worlds of YouTube and Twitch celebrities. 

Many of the fans who are now following PSG through Leo Messi will never get to watch a game in person. However, this was a window of opportunity for the club to build upon through the most localised engagement, and maybe they will secure a number of lifelong fans who fall in love with the club through the Argentinian legend.