Chery Signs Soccer Star Lionel Messi To Promote Upmarket Riich Brand

    Today, domestic Chinese automaker Chery announced that it had signed the Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi as the company's "international ambassador."
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Finance

    Automaker Hoping To Broaden Appeal As It Eyes Expansion In Global Marketplace#

    Today, domestic Chinese automaker Chery -- known mostly for its affordable, entry-level models -- announced that it had signed the Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi as the company's "international ambassador." According to Chery's spokesman Jin Yibo, Messi's role as brand ambassador will center mainly on the automaker's luxury Riich marque. From the AP:

    Chinese automakers also are promoting themselves more aggressively than ever, and plan to unveil a total of 75 new sedans, SUVs, experimental "green" cars and other vehicles, according to the [Beijing Auto] show's organizers.

    Chery spokesman Jin Yibo said the company aims to double exports this year to 100,000 vehicles and will use Messi to promote Chery's luxury Riich brand.

    "Messi is the best football player in the world, and thus he makes a great ambassador to represent our premium Riich brand," Jin said.

    The company exports to 70 developing countries in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and brought in 200 sales agents from those areas to see its latest models, Jin said.

    "Having a recognized face to promote its brand will make a big impact on Chery's business in foreign markets," said Liu Lixi, an analyst with Northeast Securities Co. in Shanghai. "It's a smart move because those unfamiliar with Chinese cars need a famous ambassador to develop an initial interest."

    This isn't the first time a Chinese brand has signed an international sporting figure as a brand ambassador, but we're curious to see how much of an impact Messi will have on Chery/Riich's image overseas. Already the company has seen a decent amount of success in South America, where the appeal of a soccer star is arguably the greatest, so presumably the choice to sign Messi was made with the European market in mind.

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