Tourism Malaysia (TM) has sealed a year-long partnership with FC Barcelona footballer Luis Suarez. This move follows a contract signed between TM and Mediapro, the Asian representative for the top-rated footballer.
According to Bernama, TM's spokesperson said in a statement that the deal is expected to drive interest for Malaysia as a tourist destination, leveraging on the football player’s popularity around the world. Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Aziz said the football star was not only among the world’s top-ranking footballers "but also a respected community leader".
He also called the footballer a "hero" and "an inspiration" to many and "we hope that this title and acknowledgement will shine the limelight on Malaysia as a tropical holiday destination" that draws in Millennials. In a statement, Suarez called Malaysia, a "culturally diverse country with beautiful beaches and world-class resorts fit for all ages," adding he is "incredibly thrilled".
In FC Barcelona's official website, Suarez who is known to play forward in the field is described as someone "synonymous with goals, scoring them and creating them. The Barça number 9 has a fighting quality that makes him a winner through and through.
In the past, Luis Suárez “biting” incident made headlines, with surprise brands getting aboard the buzz train with real-time tweets and Facebook posts. And the winners would be those who react the quickest, and the funniest.
(Read also: How brands hijacked Luis Suarez's World Cup bite)
Stuart Ramalingam, vice president and head of Malaysia, Dentsu Sports Asia who is also a huge football fan said, "Sports has become a major vehicle for brand marketing and recently too for tourism bodies to latch onto this amazingly powerful tool."
Zooming in on the recent collaboration between the tourism ministry and Luis Suarez, Ramalingam said he believes TM and Mediapro would have done its evaluation to see the appeal that Suarez has globally. "He is amongst the biggest names in football - and being South American, he's played in the English Premier League, top Dutch and English Clubs and now in a world champion team like Barcelona," he said.
Ramalingam added that TM could also benefit from Spanish League's huge TV audiences. "I am sure this partnership will stretch the collaboration that the tourism ministry has with La Liga. Moreover, having a face to the partnership will also help in amplifying their campaigns a lot further," he said.
Suarez is no doubt a well-known figure in the world of football globally, with a unique appeal. It would be interesting to see the campaign that kicks off his involvement with the Malaysian ministry of tourism, he added.