Huawei aims to score with Messi
ARGENTINE soccer superstar Lionel Messi will have to ditch his Samsung phone for a device from Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co.
The latter said on Friday it signed the 28-year-old Barcelona striker as a global ambassador to promote its consumer electronics and corporation.
Messi had been endorsing Samsung's smartphones over the past years.
Shenzhen-based Huawei declined to disclose the size of the two-year contract but Spanish media are reporting it ranges from a whopping five million to six million euros (S$7.7 to S$9.2 million) a year.
He Gang, head of Huawei's smartphone unit, said Messi's involvement will quickly boost brand awareness for the company, which is trying to seize a larger share of the smartphone markets outside China.
"We are looking at a long-term partnership with Messi because Huawei and Messi desire victory," he said.
Messi, who led Barcelona in their 3-1 victory over Arsenal on Thursday in the Champions League, said his goal has always been to win everything he competes for.
Huawei was the world's third-largest smartphone vendor by shipments last year. But it held only an 8.1 per cent share of the global market by 2015, lagging far behind Apple's 18.7 per cent and Samsung's 21.4 per cent, according to research firm IDC.
Nicole Peng, research director of Canalys China, said Huawei is planning to explore overseas markets to expand its global presence this year because about seven of every 10 devices it sells go to the Chinese market, where demand has stopped growing.
Huawei is expected to make a hefty investment in overseas marketing this year, she added.
Chinese technology firms have paid large amounts to hire celebrities and sponsor popular events to aid their overseas expansion.
In 2013, Beijing-based Lenovo Group recruited Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher to promote its tablet products.
In October, smartphone maker Vivo Communication Technology Co of Guangdong took on a two-season sponsorship of the Indian Premier League, the most-watched cricket tournament in India, to tap into the rapidly growing handset market.
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK