Capitalising on Lionel Messi's massive fan following, "beedi" manufacturing companies are seemingly trying to get the attention of Indian football enthusiasts.
A West Bengal-based firm "Arif Biri Factory" has branded its local cigarette product "Messi Beedi", and used a picture of the 34-year-old Argentine star on the cover of the package.
A "beedi" also spelled "biri" or "bidi" is a cheap, thin cigarette made by rolling a pinch of tobacco in dried leaves of the tendu tree.
The photo of the "Messi Beedi" has gone viral on social media, with people jokingly saying this is the footballer's first "endorsement" in India.
This is Lionel Messi's photo on a beedi packet in India: pic.twitter.com/RZS1kR1nRH— Shreyas Sahoo ⚡ (@shreyas_0502) July 14, 2021
Messi's first endorsement in India— Rupin Sharma IPS (@rupin1992) July 13, 2021
Netizens also pointed out that the same manufacturer has previously used the name and images of Portuguese football icon and Messi's arch-rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, on "beedi" packages.