The Strategy Behind Louis Vuitton’s Viral Football Campaign

Louis Vuitton’s newest baggage marketing campaign has been onerous to overlook.

Released Saturday on the eve of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the Annie Leibovitz-lensed picture of soccer superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi locked in a pleasant recreation of chess exploded on social media. By Monday, Louis Vuitton’s tweet of the picture (captioned “Victory is a way of thinking”) had been reposted over 55,000 occasions. On Instagram, Ronaldo and Messi each shared the picture, clocking up a complete of 65 million likes, probably the most within the platform’s historical past.

At one stage, the marketing campaign’s success got here all the way down to numbers. Ronaldo has Instagram’s hottest account with over 500 million followers. And solely a model with Louis Vuitton’s advertising and marketing price range might ship the shock and awe of that includes not one, however two of the world’s prime footballers in a single picture.

But the picture additionally had canny emotional resonance. Both Ronaldo and Messi have mentioned they plan to retire from soccer quickly and the 2022 World Cup will probably be their final. Imagining the longtime rivals bringing their rivalry to the extra contemplative and mature enviornment of chess clearly struck a chord.

Displays of sportsmanship and mutual admiration have a tendency to impress sturdy reactions: tennis greats Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer lengthy elicited glowing protection for his or her affectionate exchanges on and off the courtroom, culminating in a extremely emotional (and far shared) match earlier this yr as Federer ready to retire from the game. It’s the form of second manufacturers like Louis Vuitton dream of being related to — so why not create one?

Chess followers additionally observed that the state of play within the marketing campaign matched an iconic 2017 showdown between chess champions Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura, including a layer of intrigue and subject for on-line buzz.

Louis Vuitton’s marketing campaign deftly managed to faucet surging curiosity in soccer forward of the World Cup whereas sidestepping the controversies related to the occasion, from Qatar’s ruthless remedy of LGBTQ minorities to its exploitation of migrant laborers (of whom 1000’s are estimated to have died in the course of the development of World Cup stadiums). Sportswear giants like Nike, Adidas and Puma (who collectively gown greater than 80 % of groups), beverage companions like Budweiser and Louis Vuitton itself (which has produced a particular trophy case for the occasion since 2010) have been unwilling to drag again their participation within the hotly watched event.

Louis Vuitton is doing its trophy case partnership once more this yr, in addition to promoting a World Cup-themed capsule assortment. But it has posted about neither of these activations on Instagram — who will want it ought to the unhealthy buzz on Qatar fail to subside. With the chess picture and ensuing media protection, the model already garnered on-line buzz price an estimated $13.5 million in simply 48 hours, Launchmetrics mentioned. That’s greater than twice as a lot as Adidas’ current tie-up with Okay-Pop supergroup Blackpink, and round 40 % larger than the preliminary buzz surrounding Versace’s “Jungle gown” revival with Jennifer Lopez in 2019, based on knowledge from the consultancy.

A Louis Vuitton spokesperson declined to touch upon the controversy surrounding this yr’s World Cup, or to say how a lot the sponsorship by Messi and Ronaldo had price.

Louis Vuitton’s soccer advertising and marketing coup comes throughout a pivotal vacation procuring season as luxurious manufacturers search to keep up their post-pandemic momentum amid rising macroeconomic headwinds. After surging 22 % this yr, consultancy Bain & Co. expects the luxurious business’s development to sluggish to between 3 and eight % subsequent yr due to inflation, decrease financial development and strict coronavirus measures hampering China’s retail restoration.

In an unsure economic system, Louis Vuitton appears to be investing greater than ever in reinforcing its broad-based attraction, displaying well-known ambassadors with timeless items which might be unlikely to exit of fashion. The marketing campaign by Annie Leibovitz is an aesthetic callback to the “Core Values” collection she shot for the model from 2007 into the 2010s, which promoted Louis Vuitton’s monogrammed baggage alongside distinguished faces like Russian statesman Mikhaïll Gorbachev, movie administrators Francis Ford and Sophia Coppola and soccer greats Pelé, Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane. Those advertisements aimed to rebalance notion in favor of the model’s historic territory of journey and craftsmanship after having pushed into popular culture and style underneath designer Marc Jacobs.

“This form of promoting is not in regards to the particular product however for the model attract,” mentioned London-based luxurious marketing consultant Mario Ortelli, who referred to as the brand new marketing campaign a ‘masterstroke.’ “It’s about interesting to a really broad shopper base with a message about heritage and exclusivity that’s related to everybody,” he added.

The blockbuster baggage placement might assist defend Vuitton’s advertising and marketing territory because the model of journey after a key rival, Kering-owned Gucci, has sought to advertise its personal monogrammed duffles and suitcases in a significant advertising and marketing push fronted by Ryan Gosling.

The Messi and Ronaldo picture opp additionally raises consciousness of Louis Vuitton’s Damier Azur checkerboard motif, a best-selling signature for which the model has repeatedly lobbied for trademark safety with combined outcomes. While rivals have claimed the checkerboard is just too commonplace to be eligible for trademark standing, Vuitton argues that its lengthy historical past of investing in advertising and marketing the sample makes it a model signature worthy of safety. In October, the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office mentioned Louis Vuitton had did not show “distinctive character acquired by means of use” all through the EU.

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