Global brands that tapped into Pele’s prowess to build equity

By Felicia Nwosu

Over the years and across the globe, brand endorsement by popular athletes has become a sure-fire means of growing brand equity and developing brand love. Many global brands have latched on this strategic and powerful marketing tool to win consumers’ love through their most preferred athletes. One of such notable personalities was Pele, the Brazilian legend who was known for his logic-defying skills on the pitch.

During and long after his active career, Pelé occupied a renowned space in the hearts of football lovers all over the world. In the marketing and advertising space, he became a magnet. His unique, suave style has earned and repositioned him as a value creator, yielding him many robust endorsements from leading brands such as MasterCard, Pepsi-Cola and many others.

To appreciate him as a symbol of strength, skill, winning prowess, success and superiority, lots of brands were proud, as it was more of prestige to be identified with a hero such as Pele. In no particular order, here are some of the global brands who were endorsed by the sports legend, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pele, who  passed away on December 29 at the age of 82 years, due to complications arising from colon cancer.

American Express

This commercial was shot in 1977 and its aim was to simply tap into Pele global appeal with the universal versatility of the American Express card, where Pele with pride said, “I carry the American Express Card. I’ve used it in over 40 countries. It’s known and respected all over the world, even in places where they speak strange languages, like English.”


It must have been a very competitive scenario as these brands struggled to ensure the sports icon represented their brands.  Back in the 70s and 80s, Atari ruled the video game space. This came a year later after American Express in 1978, when Pele posed   for the brand’s commercial and said, “I quit soccer to play Atari.”


This commercial was Known with the tagline, “Connecting every fan of the game,” during the 2014 ad for Emirates. It featured both sports icons, modern football great Cristiano Ronaldo and the Brazilian legend, Pele. It was specifically inspired to highlight the generation gap among football fans around the world.


The campaign was simply to tap into Pele’s large male fan base to destigmatise erectile dysfunction and it was shot in 2022 with Pele endorsing the Pfizer Viagra product. Although he was criticized by some of his followers for identifying with a  Viagra product even though he was also a part of the brand’s anti-impotence awareness campaign.


The great football also got associated with global beverage drink, Pepsi in 1974, The Pepsi commercial created a montage of Pele playing football while also  featuring  his signature, gravity-defying “bicycle kick.” The song “Join the Pepsi Generation” plays in the background.

Louis Vuitton

This 2010 Louis Vuitton ad  was a combination of  three of the greatest football legends , whose charisma won the hearts of many consumers through the campaign. It starred Zinedine Zidane and Diego Maradona. The ad shows Pele and Zidane locked in a game of foosball with Maradona playing referee.


This brand specially took out time to celebrate and mourn Pele on Its Linkedin page.  The campaign gave the globally known footballers an opportunity to promote the power of sports as a unifying factor as change agents.

The legend who starred in the payment-processing corporation’s 1994 ad appeared again in a 2018 ad about the unifying power of football. The 2018 FIFA ad is an emotionally charged video of 22 football fans from across the world who talked about their love for the game. “It’s something that’s very important to remember. The role of football, no doubt, is to put people together.”


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