Inside Hard Rock Cafe’s ad featuring Lionel Messi in the kitchen

Lionel Messi joining Major League Soccer under the Inter Miami team reignited the interest of some brands looking to hire the Argentinean star to reach a more diverse audience.

Among them is Hard Rock Cafe, which has worked with the soccer star since 2021 when they introduced the “Messi-Burger” to the chain’s menu.

As part of a five-year contract, the soccer star and restaurant are again collaborating — now on its “Greatness Happens Here” campaign for which it created the so-called Messi Chicken Sandwich. The brand did not provide financial details of the agreement.

The restaurant chain worked with Messi for ads featuring “La Pulga” walking around a kitchen as a chef as the kitchen hustles around him. The commercials have been distributed on social media, Yelp, CTV and in the Hard Rock Cafes and hotels — accessible with a QR code, though the company did not say how much it is spending on this campaign’s placement.

“Our partnership has been very positive and beneficial to the Hard Rock brand in terms of exposure and business,” said Elena Alvarez, vp of sales for Hard Rock International, without providing exact figures. “And now having him at home in Miami is another positive element because he is closer to us. It’s a winning combination.”

Hard Rock Cafe — which is known for displaying artist original memorabilia is considering displaying Messi’s trophies.

“With the opportunity to add Leo Messi collectibles, Hard Rock International’s intention is to display original Messi pieces,” said Millie Vergara Managing Director of Yes We’re Open, the agency in charge of executing the campaign.

“That joy and maturity after achieving his ultimate sporting goal was felt throughout the process,” said Sebastián Marvin, co-founder and Creative Partner of the agency. “Leo Messi was a true champion during the filming and throughout the development of the campaign, and it is evident in the final product.”

Messi filmed for the ad in Paris while finishing touches featuring the product were filmed in Orlando. And his own childhood was inspiration for the sandwich itself as his favorite dish his mother made him was chicken milanese. “Hence, the idea of Messi ‘the Chef’ came about organically” shared Vergara.

In an Instagram post announcing the chicken sandwich — and branding with Hard Rock — Messi referred to the moment as “another dream comes true.” The post has over 10 million likes.

More in Marketing

Women’s sports marketing boom ‘huge up and coming opportunity,’ spurs new agency services

Women’s sports are having a moment. Brands, media companies and agencies are looking to get in on the action.

Creators still turning down work as the Hollywood SAG-AFTRA strike continues

The Hollywood strikes were supposed to be a game changer for many of them, but the situation hasn’t quite lived up to the hype.

Agencies move on from creating content for specific platforms to focus on short-form video

Given the rise of short-form video, agencies that focus on the format, rather than specific platform expertise, will reap the rewards.