The FIFA World Cup Finals. Alongside The Olympic Games, is the world’s biggest and most lucrative sports marketing platform. With FIFA predicting an audience of over 5bn people, it’s no surprise that top-tier partners pay the most and expect to receive the most. More advertising space, more brand mentions and more branded backdrops should equal more share of voice over the four-week period.
But in the world of luxury fashion, less has always been more. And in the world of earned media, that principle can also pay dividends. Quality content with rich storytelling at its heart helped Louis Vuitton teach a valuable lesson in how to cut through the noise on the eve of the tournament.
An official licensee of FIFA since 2010, Louis Vuitton bought one exclusive and very specific right which sees the FIFA World Cup trophy carried out onto the pitch in a bespoke, distinctive LV luggage case ahead of the final game. Direct comparisons with official partners would be unfair, such as the unique nature of LV, but fans won’t see the brand or its logo anywhere else around the tournament like we’ll see the other official partners. Just one laser-focused moment when the world is watching.
Late on Saturday evening, the night before the opening game, the brand dropped the ultimate in internet-breaking moments. The world’s greatest footballers Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing out a game of chess on top of the luggage case that will carry the trophy they both aim to lift on December 19th. Shot by American photographer Annie Leibowitz (best known for her iconic celebrity portraits), a rare moment of the two together in an image that uses chess as a metaphor to depict two incredible careers was published on their respective social channels. Careers that have led to this one much talked about moment.
They tapped into what is seen by many as a saturated ‘GOAT’ conversation in a way that won’t be forgotten; two of them together, product playing a unique role, beautifully shot. Investing in the perfect execution of one sole image felt luxurious and on brand and helped deliver the second and fifth most-liked Instagram posts since the social media channel launched in 2010 (34m on 25m on Cristiano’s and Messi’s channels respectively).
The contracts with both of these global stars are reported to have been negotiated solely around the use of this image. One final moment is expected at the end of the tournament (Messi opening the case?) and their respective signatures will have obviously come at a substantial cost. But by paying for one sole FIFA right (and as an official licensee, the value of the deal will be significantly less than official partner status) and investing elsewhere in talent with an ‘earned media first’ mindset, the investment strategy has paid off.
Luxury has always told us less is more. A valuable lesson for us all.