18:34 GMT16 April 2021
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    American beer company Budweiser has launched a new campaign in India focused on the journey of football star Lionel Messi. Along with special-edition custom-designed Lionel Messi bottles, Budweiser had painters depict the footballer on walls in Delhi and Mumbai.

    As part of its latest campaign aimed at inspiring youngsters, Budweiser had a huge mural of football star Lionel Messi painted on a building wall in the iconic Delhi neighbourhood of Hauz Khas Village (HKV). The posh area located in South Delhi is popular among partygoers.

    The murals, celebrating Messi's sports career, have been painted over existing graffiti that was created by Spanish painter Okuda San Miguel and Polish artist Mariusz Waras in 2014. A community of Indian artists have since expressed disappointment because Budweiser's campaign replaced previous artwork on the wall. 

    An Indian urban art initiative called "St+art India" took to Twitter to share the pictures of the HKV walls where the Messi murals replaced the pre-existing animal art "overnight".

    "It has taken many years for organisations such as ours to build the street art scene in India. One cannot simply hijack it overnight. What used to be some of our earliest murals in Delhi - the ones by @okudart and @stencilcity at Hauz Khas Village - have now been turned into billboards for Budweiser overnight", St+art India captioned its post on Instagram.

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    The controversy was fuelled when it turned out the murals were painted on the building hosting a primary municipal school. 

    "It in unethical for an alcohol brand to advertise on a school wall", St+art India added.

    ​"Our aim was always to offer the insider perspective into the G.O.A.T’s (greatest of all time) iconic journey and inspire fans through creative murals that celebrated his journey. As part of curating these murals, we ensured that these walls are first restored and will continue to support the creator community", the Indian daily Hindustan Times quoted a Budweiser spokesperson as saying on the controversy.



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