Boxing legend and global icon Muhammad Ali — who almost never does ads — is the latest face featured in Louis Vuitton’s Core Values campaign, starring in the ad alongside his four-year-old grandson (and spitting image) Curtis.
With the ad, which was shot in Ali’s Phoenix home by revered photographer Annie Leibovitz, the Champ joins the ranks of personalities like Angelina Jolie, Sean Connery, U2′s Bono, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and others who have acted as the face of the campaign.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Louis Vuitton chooses its “human icons” based on a list of personal heroes compiled by the company’s executives. The 70-year-old, three-time world heavyweight champion was selected by several of the execs, including the company’s chairman and CEO Yves Carcelle.
“Muhammad Ali is the epitome of an outstanding personality — a true living legend in boxing and far beyond,” Carcelle said. “We are honored that he agreed to be photographed for the Core Values campaign, and delighted with the way this beautiful portrait of the champion and his grandson captures the idea of transmission, which is of great significance to Louis Vuitton.”
Ali’s grandson Curtis — whom the family affectionately calls “C.J.” and is the son of Laila Ali and her husband Curtis Conway — was included in the portrait at Ali’s request, according to the Champ’s wife Lonnie, because of the “special bond” the two share and, of course, the uncanny resemblance.
“Of all the grandchildren, C.J. looks the most like Muhammad. And he even acts like him,” she said. “That child — I’ll tell you!”
Ali’s likeness was last used for advertising during adidas’ 2008 “Impossible Is Nothing” campaign. Stock photos and video of Ali were used in a 2005 Apple campaign titled “Think Different.”
The new ads will appear in publications worldwide beginning June 15th.