By Barry Janoff
February 3, 2014: Lionel Messi is arguably regarded as the best soccer player in the world.
Gillette is now giving him a chance to show off his skills in tennis, hockey, cricket, Australian rules football and auto racing, albeit via fantasy, signing Messi to star in a new global campaign, Inner Steel.
Messi is not alone: Roger Federer, already a Gillette spokesman, tries his hand alongside Messi in soccer and even sumo wrestling in the launch TV spot, "Trading Places."
Financial terms of true alliance with Messi were not disclosed.
In addition to the TV spot, Gillette is supporting the arrival of Messi with Internet, social media and the release of Special Edition Country Razors, each of which displays national colors from countries worldwide.
Gillette is tying the campaign into the FIFA World Cup, which will take place in Brazil this June-July. The company will activate its alliance with soccer legend and Brazilian native Pelé as part of the campaign.
On local levels, Gillette is partnering with such players as Joe Hart (England), Thomas Muller (Germany), “Chicharito” (Mexico), “Falcao” (Colombia), Sergio “Kun” Aguero (Argentina), Juan Arango (Venezuela), Alexis Alejandro Sánchez “Alex Sánchez” (Chile), Shinji Kagawa (Japan), Ki Sung-Yueng (South Korea) and “Oscar”, “Paulinho” and “Lucas” (Brazil).
Gillette is also activating behind its alliances with national soccer teams including those from Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Venezuela and Chile.
“This is a new era for Gillette and football," John Mang, Gillette global vice president, said in a statement. "We are excited to partner with Lionel Messi and a stellar line up of world-class players and teams. These athletes meticulously hone their skills and strive for precision on the field. They are at the top of their sport and their passion to be their best, is an inspiration to us all.”
According to Messi, “Throughout my career I have been fortunate to have a great deal of success on the field; but I know that the strongest performances come only when you commit 100% to the task at hand and display the strength and mettle to give it all . . . Gillette is a brand that shares my resolve and determination to try to be the best and I know that together we can show men everywhere that the strongest performances come when you strengthen the 'Inner Steel' inside and show your colors on the outside.”
An extended two-minute version of "Trading Places" opens with Federer shaving in the locker room of a sports club using various razors from the Gillette Special Edition Country Razors collection. When he uses the Japan razor, he envisions himself as a sumo wrestler.
Messi comes in to shave and uses the razor from India, putting him into a cricket scenario.
"We can show men everywhere that the strongest performances come when you strengthen the 'Inner Steel' inside and show your colors on the outside.”
Ultimately, they end up trading places when Messi becomes a tennis player and Federer is a soccer goalie who looks up to see Messi bearing down on him. The action ends with Messi taking a shot on goal and Federer diving in an attempt to make the save. The scene fades to black before we see the actual outcome. (See the full spot here.)
Gillette said it would be encouraging soccer fans worldwide (including via a Twitter destination, #InnerSteel) to "show and share their 'Inner Steel' and support of their nations' colors by asking men everywhere to demonstrate that they, like Gillette, are 'Made From Steel, Driven by Their Colors.'"
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