Louis Vuitton Scores Big With Campaign Featuring Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi

KEEPING SCORE: Louis Vuitton’s brand campaign featuring Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi is scoring big online.

Since the two soccer stars posted the image showing them playing a game of chess on Saturday, the French luxury house’s campaign has gone viral, racking up a combined 72 million likes on Instagram: 38 million on Ronaldo’s account, 29 million on Messi’s and more than 5 million on the Vuitton account.

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In the wake of the ad, Ronaldo became the first person to pass 500 million followers on Instagram. Messi is the second most-followed person with 377 million. Although Ronaldo’s post has yet to beat the world record for the most-liked online post, which is held by @world_record_egg’s picture of an egg with 55.9 million likes, it’s already delivering rich returns.

Ronaldo’s post had a media impact value of $2.8 million in the first 48 hours, according to the Launchmetrics scoring system that assigns a monetary value to every post, interaction or article about a brand to measure its performance and impact.

Messi’s post had a value of $2.6 million, and Vuitton’s post was worth $1.1 million, according to the data and insights firm, which estimated the total MIV of the campaign at $13.5 million, based mainly on media reports about the ad.

Under the tag line “Victory Is a State of Mind,” the campaign was photographed by Annie Leibovitz and broke on Saturday, ahead of the opening day of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. It’s in the lineage of its 2010 Core Values campaign featuring legendary players Pelé, Maradona and Zinedine Zidane playing table football.

The concept was the brainchild of Antoine Arnault, head of communication and image at parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, who introduced the influential Core Values campaign, starring iconic personalities such as Bono, Mikhail Gorbachev and Angelina Jolie, during his tenure as communications director at Vuitton.

“Bringing these two living legends together, these two modern-day gladiators, had been a longtime dream of mine. I always knew that only the Core Values campaign by Louis Vuitton, the most iconic maison in the world, could do them justice,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The idea of them coming together to play chess came to me after watching my 15-year-old stepson spend hours watching chess championship games on YouTube,” said Arnault, who is married to Russian model and philanthropist Natalia Vodianova, referring to his stepson Viktor Portman.

“I thought that, under Annie Leibovitz’s unique lens, the result could be nothing but legendary. This photo’s beauty goes beyond my wildest expectations but its success on social networks doesn’t surprise me,” he added.

Messi and Ronaldo are shown staring intently at chess pieces placed on the checkerboard canvas of a Louis Vuitton Damier attaché case. Vuitton worked with Bruce Pandolfini, the chess teacher who consulted on the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit,” to determine the positions of the chess pieces in the picture.

Eagle-eyed aficionados spotted that it mirrors a famous match between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura from 2017, which ended in a draw, suggesting that it is impossible to declare either Ronaldo or Messi the world’s greatest footballer.

Between 2008 and 2017, the two players between them claimed every Ballon d’Or, the award given to the world’s best male footballer, and Messi has won it twice more since then. Heading into the World Cup, the stakes are high for Messi, 35, and Ronaldo, 37, since neither has won the sport’s most coveted prize despite their individual achievements.

The World Cup has been dogged with controversy over allegations of corruption at FIFA and questions over host country Qatar’s record on human rights, prompting many brands to keep a low profile during the competition.

Vuitton, which has a history of making trophy cases for sports including tennis, basketball, rugby and Formula 1, has had a partnership with FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, since 2010. In addition to designing the travel case for the World Cup trophy, it has launched a capsule collection of soccer-themed leather goods.

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