Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are used to tackling each other on a football pitch, but in a new Louis Vuitton advertisement, modern soccer’s biggest rivals square off over a game of chess.
The French luxury house’s latest brand campaign, under the tag line “Victory Is a State of Mind,” was photographed by Annie Leibovitz and broke on Saturday, ahead of the opening day of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar on Sunday.
It follows Vuitton’s 2010 Core Values campaign featuring legendary players Pele, Maradona and Zinedine Zidane playing table football. Messi and Ronaldo are shown staring intently at chess pieces placed on the checkerboard canvas of a Louis Vuitton Damier attaché case.
The players have dominated soccer for more than a decade, as detailed in a recently published book, “Messi vs. Ronaldo: One Rivalry, Two GOATs, and the Era That Remade the World’s Game,” by Wall Street Journal reporters Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg.
Between 2008 and 2017, Messi and Ronaldo 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. From 2009 to 2018, when both men played for Spanish teams, their clashes had fans on tenterhooks.
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.
Capitalizing on Argentina’s Copa América win last year, Messi will attempt to lead his country to victory for the first time since 1986. Meanwhile, Ronaldo is hoping to help carry Portugal to its very first World Cup win, despite his controversial rift with his club Manchester United.
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.
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.
Messi and Ronaldo regularly top the list of the most followed celebrities on Instagram, with 373 million and 497 million followers, respectively, and they have both ventured into fashion with casual- and activewear-leaning lines.
BDST: 1107 HRS, NOV 20, 2022