Here's What CMOs Can Learn About Brand Authenticity From Louis Vuitton's Core Values Campaign with Federer and Nadal

Jason Papp
June 11, 2024
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PARIS, France — Consumers are demanding authenticity from brands like never before. Louis Vuitton's latest chapter in its storied Core Values campaign, featuring tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal is exemplary. It’s an ace in brand authenticity and strategic positioning. 

Why? This campaign, captured by the renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz (also credited for the Louis Vuitton Ronaldo x Messi chess match), is more than just a showcase of luxury and elegance, which can be a temptation in this sector. Rather, it is a poignant narrative of two individuals the world has observed for years - their ambition, respect, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. 

This partnership between Federer, Nadal and Louis Vuitton is not only a brilliant step for the brand but it’s also a significant lesson for other CMOs on leveraging authenticity in brand campaigns. 

Pietro Beccari, Chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton shares “It has been 17 years since I launched the first Core Values campaign with Antoine Arnault, and I am delighted to revive this iconic series. Each Core Values chapter celebrates Louis Vuitton’s legacy of travel, of working with exceptional people, and of transmission – both physical and emotional. It has been brilliant to work with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on this new story – both inspirational athletes, fierce friends, and testaments to the discipline and excellence of their own personal sporting journeys.”

Authenticity as a Value Proposition

Consumers’ desire for brand authenticity is no secret, in 2019 Harvard Business Review reported on the kind of authenticity customers will pay more for. We see that authenticity in branding goes beyond mere transparency; it is about resonating with your audience on a deeper, emotional level. Louis Vuitton achieves this by aligning its brand with the authentic journeys of Federer and Nadal, who embody values of determination, excellence, and mutual respect. 

The campaign’s tagline, “There are Journeys that turn into Legends,” encapsulates this alignment perfectly.

Strategic Use of Emotional and Visual Narratives

The campaign is set against the majestic backdrop of Italy’s Dolomites, where Federer and Nadal are depicted not as competitors, but as companions. This setting serves as a powerful metaphor for their careers, symbolising the peaks and challenges they’ve surmounted. The visual storytelling here is crucial; it transcends the traditional boundaries of luxury marketing, offering a narrative that is both aspirational but also relatable.

As a CMO, your takeaway is clear. Yes, you could employ the help of a global star and prise them into your campaign. But, authenticity is best communicated through compelling narratives that fit your overall message, and heritage and connect with your audience’s values and aspirations. 

By showcasing real, inspirational stories, you can foster a deeper emotional connection with your customers that will pay dividends long after you have retired.

Expanding Market Reach Through Influential Ambassadors

We know Federer and Nadal are not just sports icons; they are influential figures with a vast following. Coupled with the Olympics soon to be upon us, tennis taking centre court their involvement in the campaign extends Louis Vuitton’s reach to a broader audience, including sports enthusiasts who may not typically engage with luxury fashion. This strategic choice of ambassadors highlights the importance of selecting brand representatives who genuinely reflect the brand’s values and ethos.

CMOs can learn from this approach by ensuring that their brand ambassadors are not just popular figures, but individuals whose personal stories and values resonate with the brand’s core message. This alignment enhances credibility and fosters a genuine connection with the audience.

This campaign delivers deep visual narrative elements and the consumer isn’t left guessing whether the celebrity athlete endorses the brand. And that’s perhaps most important. 

This is not David Beckham for Nespresso, Stella Artois or LeBron James for Taco Bell. These campaigns often focus more on star power ahead of deep narrative alignment, aiming for broad appeal rather than an aspirational message.

The Role of Artistic Collaboration

Annie Leibovitz’s involvement adds an artistic dimension to the campaign, reinforcing its cultural and aesthetic appeal. Her ability to capture profound moments elevates the campaign’s visual storytelling, making it not just an advertisement, but a piece of art.

Leibovitz’s involvement serves up a reminder that talent behind the camera is just a key, partnering with artists and creators who can bring a unique perspective and depth to a campaign. 

Louis Vuitton’s partnership with Federer, Nadal, and Leibovitz is an exemplification of the power of authentic storytelling and strategic brand alignment. 

By focusing on a narrative that highlights shared values and personal journeys, Louis Vuitton not only reinforces its brand authenticity but also connects with a wider, more diverse audience. When a campaign is rooted in genuine stories and strategic partnerships, it can elevate your brand’s image and foster lasting connections with your audience.

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Jason Papp
Founder & Editor-in-chief