5 years ago

Easy way for travel brands to go viral on YouTube – hire megastars Lionel Messi and Kobe Bryant

Okay, not easy at all given that Lionel Messi and Kobe Bryant are two of the hottest (and probably most expensive) sporting properties on the planet right now.

Messi is fast becoming considered one of the best football players of all time and Bryant is probably one of the most well known players globally on the US basketball scene.

So, with remarkable timing on the eve of Messi breaking another world record (most goals in a calendar year), Turkish Airlines unleashed its latest web ad, featuring the pair on an aircraft as they battle to get the attention of a star-struck kid.

Placed on YouTube on December 5, Kobe vs Messi: Legends on Board amassed an astonishing 28 million views within six days.

Here is the ad:

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. Kuan Sng

    Do remember that Turkish Airlines is not a US airline, that Messi is not a US player and that Kobe is indeed a global name. Heck, he speaks Italian! I have seen the ad in China so this definitely gets mileage.

    Stepping back, you also get the feeling that Turkish Airlines’ other efforts are raising it above the cloud line in terms of awareness. Chatting with friends who frequently fly Asia – Europe or Asia – Africa routes, Turkish is pricing competitively such that it’s starting to compete well with regional powerhouse, Emirates. A 15-hr layover also works well for leisure travelers who can nip in to Istanbul for a quick lookaround.

    Well-timed, I think.

  2. Chicke Fitzgerald

    Jared – while I agree on the brand mismatch, if you are trying to get business by showing the commercial in New York City or LA, it works on star power alone.

  3. Jared

    I think this is the most mis-matched endorsement deal ever. What does Kobe have to do with Turkish airlines? They are simply going for pure star-power here – he doesn’t represent the brand in any way in my opinion.

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @jared – fair point, but you could say the same for many “celeb”-brand tie-ins.

      Shatner and Priceline, back in the day, was a weird mismatch.

      What TA is trying to do is pull in global eyeballs to its brand.

      And the fact that it serves countless US destinations actually means the Bryant is probably rather appropriate.

  4. Chicke Fitzgerald

    Great commercial!!

  5. Sam Daams

    See, now why couldn’t SAS use our tax money for a fun ad like that!?! Got to love businesses where the laws of economics don’t really matter… 🙂


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